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Hopkins scientists use blood proteins to detect ovarian cancer

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers have designed a blood test to detect ovarian cancer using three proteins found in common in the blood of women with the disease. Their preliminary studies with the new test suggest a molecular signature exclusive to this deadly cancer, known for its ability to remain undetected and spread quickly.

The Hopkins test, described in the August 15 issue of Cancer Research, identifies the proteins as a truncated form of transthyretin, a fragment of ITIH4 and apolipoprotein A1, teased out with a rigorous evaluation of protein patterns present in blood samples from ovarian cancer patients at several U.S. and international hospitals. Other research groups are evaluating ovarian cancer blood tests that use protein profiles consisting of tens of thousands of unidentified molecules.

"By identifying a select group of biomarkers specific to ovarian cancer, we not only know the proteins we are dealing with, but we can trace them back to alterations in the genetic code of ovarian cancer cells," says Daniel W. Chan, Ph.D., professor and director of the Biomarker Discovery Center at Johns Hopkins. "We are focusing on the markers for which we have good biological reasoning behind their selection, and hope to expand the panel of markers to catch as many variations in ovarian cancer proteins as possible."

This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and Ciphergen Biosystems, which has licensed the test.

Chan and his co-workers emphasize that the test will not be commercially available for screening the population at large until completion of further validation studies in larger groups of patients. And even then, Chan notes, it is never going to be possible for a blood test to correctly diagnose 100 percent of cancerous tumors 100 percent of the time. "The goal is to come as close as possible to that by using this test in combination with other available diagnostic tools." They believe, howe
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wastava@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
15-Aug-2004


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