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Molecular detectors may refine cancer treatment

lood and bone marrow cells. In combination, the six aptamers produced distinct patterns that characterize different cancer cells, suggesting that the technique could be useful to detect the molecular fingerprints of cancer in people.

The next step toward developing a clinical diagnostic tool involves matching patient data with these molecular profiles. The research team working with W. Stratford May, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UF Shands Cancer Center, and Ying Li, M.D., Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine in the College of Medicine has analyzed additional patient samples to build a database that may one day help doctors select the best treatment strategies.

We are linking the medical histories of patients to specific aptamer binding patterns, said Tan, who is also affiliated with the UF Genetics Institute. We should soon be able to say patients who belong to this specific molecular binding pattern should have such-and-such treatment. Different molecular patterns of cancer patients will point to different treatments.

Current tests to diagnose leukemia use antibodies, proteins that have the ability to identify harmful substances. But such methods do not capture subtle variances in the molecular signature of cancer cells.

Once an aptamer probe has proved its utility, it can be inexpensively reproduced in a DNA synthesizer.

Physical scientists mostly use cultured cellular models to demonstrate a principal, and then we leave the findings behind for the biological scientists to use if they want, Tan said. But through collaboration we have pushed the demonstration through to an almost clinical application.


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Contact: John Pastor
jdpastor@ufl.edu
352-273-5815
University of Florida
19-Jul-2007


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