Cancer in early stages is typically detected by identifying cancer-specific serum antigens. Unfortunately, cancer serum antigens are present at very low levels in early-stage disease. Also, cancer antigens are not present in all patients due to heterogeneity of the disease. Detection of serum autoantibody responses to tumors provides more reliable serum marker(s) for cancer diagnosis. Serum autoantibodies are more stable than serum antigens and may be more abundant than antigens, especially with small tumors characteristic of early-stage cancers.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a “phage-protein microarray method to characterize autoantibody signatures in cancer”1,2. This promising method for the early detection and assessment of cancer is to look not for cancer but rather for the immune response to cancer. There is no detection instrument that rivals the sensitivity and specificity of the immune system.
The fundamental technology is based on the use of genomics and proteomics to understand cancer. Genomics and proteomics comprise the global study of complex sets of genes and proteins, their expression, and their function in a particular organism. A gene is a set of instructions or information that is embedded in the DNA of a cell. For a gene to be turned on or “expressed” by a cell, the cell must first transcribe a copy of its DNA sequence into messenger RNA, which is then translated by the cell into protein. Proteins and their subunits (peptides) control most biological processes and make up molecular pathways, which cells use to carry out their specific functions.
Genomics and proteomics can be used to understand diseases at the molecular level. Diseases can occur when mutated or defective genes inappropriately activate or block molecular pathways that are important for normal biological function. Disease can result from inheriting mutated genes or from developing mutations in otherwise normal cells. These mutations can cause cancer. The ability to detect a genetic mutation or its functional results (e.g., expressed mRNA or proteins) and to understand the process by which these mutations contribute to disease is crucial to understanding the molecular mechanisms of a disease.
Cancer results from alterations in cells caused by the molecular changes of mutated genes. The behavior of cancer is dependent on many different genes and how they interact. Cancer is a complex disease process, and it may not be possible to identify a single gene or protein that adequately signals a more aggressive or less aggressive type of cancer. The ability to analyze multiple genes or proteins expressed by the tumor provides more valuable information, which enables individualized cancer assessment and treatment.
The key to utilizing genomics and proteomics in cancer is identifying specific sets of genes or proteins and their interaction partners that are important for diagnosing different types or subtypes of various cancers.
These types of studies and results are being used by Armune BioScience to develop and refine tests that quantify the presence and aggressiveness of various cancers, allowing physicians to better understand what treatments are most likely to work for an individual patient or how likely a cancer is to be present or recur.
Supporting Research for the Armune Methodology of Detecting Cancer:
- “Novel Prostate Cancer Biomarkers Derived from Autoantibody Signatures,” (Translational Oncology (2015) 8, 106–111)
- “Autoantibody Signatures in Prostate Cancer,” The New England Journal of Medicine, (NEJM 2005; 353:1224-1235)
- “Autoantibody Profiles Reveal Ubiquilin 1 as a Humoral Immune Response Target in Lung Adenocarcinoma,” Cancer Journal – American Association for Cancer Research (Cancer Res 2007;67(7):3461–7)
1. Wang X, Yu J, Sreekumar A, et al. Autoantibody signatures in prostate cancer. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(12):1224-35.
2. United States Patent Appl. 20060014138 (2006)