Their new diagnostic test employs an instrument called "MALDI-TOF MS" to detect proteins in the blood that signal inflammatory diseases and various cancers. Finding a disease-causing protein is critical because it helps doctors diagnose the disease and develop new ways to block its detrimental effects, the researchers said.
Expanding on the MALDI-TOF MS technique, Duke radiologists have identified a specific protein, serum amyloid A, which is elevated in the blood of lung cancer patients but not in the blood of normal patients. While serum amyloid A has previously been shown to be elevated in cancers and other diseases, the Duke team is the first to use MALDI-TOF MS to identify this protein and others that may be involved in lung cancer, said Edward Patz, M.D., professor of radiology and pharmacology/cancer biology at Duke.
Based on his new findings, Patz plans to develop a blood test that will measure serum amyloid A and other, more specific proteins that can detect lung cancer in the blood before a tumor is clinically apparent.
"Our technique is a new paradigm for identifying protein targets in cancer, because we are zeroing in on the disease-causing protein itself rather than searching for a defective gene and then hunting down its relevant proteins," said Patz.
Patz described his methods and results using MALDI-TOF MS (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry) in two studies published in the September 2003 issue of the journal Proteomics.
The Duke studies are proof of principle that MALDI-TOF MS can, in fact, pinpoint and identify proteins in blood that are elevated in cancer and other diseases, said Patz. Moreover, the Duke approach t
Contact: Becky Levine
Duke University Medical Center