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
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    SAP HCM/PAYROLL CONSULTANT

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP HCM/PAYROLL...

    MS Dynamics NAV Developer

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Excellent oppor...

    SAP GRC/SECURITY CONSULTANT

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP GRC/SECURIT...

    Senior Marine / Shipping Solicitor - South Coast

    Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: SOUTH COAST - MARINE / SHIPPING Th...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game