Tumor's protein level predicts if cancer will spread

Researchers have found a way to detect if cancer has spread or if it will recur by testing the tumor for a certain protein, said a study on Tuesday in the journal Clinical Investigation.

The discovery could provide a more accurate indication of likely survival than the current method of grading cancer stages from one to four, researchers said.

If the test can be developed for wider use, which could still be years away, it may help doctors decide when to aggressively treat tumors to try to prevent them from metastasizing, often fatally, to other parts of the body.

"This biomarker may be useful for many types of cancers," said lead study author Y. Peng Loh of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's (NICHD) Section on Cellular Neurobiology.

"It is very important to know when a cancer is likely to spread," she said. "Currently there are no accurate biomarkers that can achieve such predictions and prognosis is determined by staging of the cancer."

The new variant of a protein, carboxypeptidase E (CPE), usually involved with processing of hormones, such as insulin, was discovered by scientists at the US National Institutes of Health and the University of Hong Kong.

The protein, CPE-delta N, was found to be present at high levels in metastatic tumor cells in numerous types of cancer, including liver, breast, colon, adrenal and head and neck cancers.

The eight-year study focused on 99 patients with stage one to four liver cancer, and tested tumor cells and surrounding tissue for levels of CPE delta-N by measuring RNA (ribonucleic acid) which helps the body make the protein.

When the level of CPE delta-N RNA in tumors was more than double that in the surrounding tissue, "the cancer was highly likely to return or to metastasize within two years," the study said.

"At or below this threshold level, the cancer was much less likely to recur," it said.

According to that method, researchers predicted that cancer had metastasized or would recur in more than 90 percent of cases, and they were correct 76 percent of the time when they predicted the tumors would not come back.

In some cases, they found that the protein indicated cancer would return in stage two patients who normally would have been presumed cancer-free and would not have received further care after the tumor was excised.

"So CPE delta N is a better indicator of the seriousness of the disease than current staging techniques," said Loh.

The scientists also extracted cells from other types of tumors and analyzed them for the protein, extending the study to a total of 180 patients.

Biomarker research has been plagued by announcements of promising indicators of disease that upon further study have fallen flat.

But Loh said the research team followed strict guidelines for publishing their study and were confident that they established a "basis on which to go further."

The National Cancer Institute's Stephen Hewitt, a scientist who contributed to the research, said the RNA method provided a better way to diagnose cancer.

"This study is nice because we were able to beat the current standard of care of stage and grade," he said.

However, he cautioned that the research will take time to develop into a test that is available to the general public.

"We are at a stage where we have a discovery - and a very good result - but it is time to validate this and other cohorts and expand these findings, including to other tumor types," said Hewitt.

"The nature of biomarker development is very much like the nature of drug development, it takes time," he said.

"And sometimes you actually have to wait longer than with drug development because you are waiting for the patient's outcome to be determined," he said.

The lead authors of the study were Loh and Ronnie Poon from the University of Hong Kong, and funding came in part from the NICHD, National Cancer Institute, University of Hong Kong and the Canadian government.

ksh/jm

 

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'