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Role for proteomics in identifying hematologic malignancies

BOSTON Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that could help clinicians identify a group of hematologic malignancies known as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), which affect approximately 300,000 individuals worldwide and often progress to acute myeloid leukemia.

Reported in the advance issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (which appears on-line the week of January 8) the findings point to a possible new diagnostic method for these malignancies, which occur when blood cells remain in an immature stage within the bone marrow and never sufficiently develop into the mature cells necessary for proper hematologic functioning. The study was led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Heinrich Heine University in Duesseldorf, Germany.

"Currently, a bone marrow biopsy is the only definitive means available to diagnose MDS," explains senior author Towia Libermann, PhD, Director of the Genomics Center at BIDMC and director of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Cancer Proteomics Core. "And since this group of malignancies primarily affects elderly patients, such a procedure is particularly arduous and sometimes impossible."

Therefore, first author Manuel Aivado, MD, PhD, a member of the Libermann laboratory and Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), devised a clinical study to test whether serum proteomic profiling might be used to identify biomarkers for MDS.

The large-scale study of proteins -- including their expression, modification, composition, structure and function -- the field of proteomics is proving instrumental in the identification of molecular biomarkers, such as those that indicate a particular disease, according to Libermann, who is also Associate Professor of Medicine at HMS.

Aivado and Libermann used a combination of two technologies -- protein fractionation and mass spectrometry to create proteome profiles from the serum of 218 pati
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
11-Jan-2007


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