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Unlocking the Future of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

CT scan

Unlocking the Future of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment


In the realm of cancer research, a remarkable transformation is underway. The use of proteomics on large scale cancer studies has the potential to uncover new biomarkers. In recent studies, blood proteomics has had promising results for detecting and identifying cancer. This technology will redefine early cancer detection, risk assessment, and the monitoring of diverse cancer subtypes.

The Human Protein Atlas, a Swedish program initiated in 2003, and the Liverpool Lung Project (LLP), founded in 1996, have recently released studies that leverage the power of highplex protein assays. These insights could power a new era in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In this article, we discuss the results of two studies. Using Olink Proteomics technologies, researchers unlocked new possibilities for the field of oncology.

Using Plasma Proteins in Predictive Cancer Panels

The power to detect cancers in their nascent stages is crucial. Early detection helps people start cancer treatment much sooner than it would typically begin. Our first highlighted study used a biomarker panel that may be able to identify those at the greatest risk of developing lung cancer — over five years before traditional diagnosis. Detecting cancers at an earlier phase not only amplifies the effectiveness of treatment but also significantly elevates survival rates.

Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies globally, with more than 2.2 million new cases in 2020. Treatment outcomes in lung cancer underscore the importance of early detection — existing methods decrease lung cancer mortality by 16 to 20%. Yet existing screening techniques, such as CT scans, come with considerable cost and invasiveness.

This study delved into the feasibility of using individual plasma proteins as minimally invasive indicators for diagnosing and predicting lung cancer. This project leveraged the Olink Proteomics Explore 3072 platform. With the use of this protein library, researchers analyzed 3,072 proteins in plasma samples from the Liverpool Lung Project (LLP) cohort.

Researchers identified a panel of 14 proteins capable of remarkably accurate lung cancer prediction. This panel may be used to identify those at greatest risk of lung cancer over five years before traditional diagnosis. The study also identified different significant proteins and pathways depending on the imminence of the subject developing lung cancer.

This research unveils the potential biological mechanisms governing the differential expression of these proteins. This revelation opens novel avenues for the early detection and treatment of lung cancer. The authors advocate for future research to explore the correlation between plasma protein levels and the presence of undetected tumors or their association with biological indicators of future cancer risk.

Divergence in Blood Proteome Profiles: A Pivotal Discovery

Some past oncology research has searched for individual biomarkers of specific malignancies. However, this is not always an effective strategy. In breast cancer, for example, individual markers perform poorly for identifying existing cancer or increased risk of developing cancer.

By comparing plasma profiles among patients afflicted with various cancer types, researchers from the Human Protein Atlas project were able to pinpoint unique signatures specific to each cancer. This made it possible to differentiate between specific types of cancer.

The study analyzed plasma samples from 1,477 cancer patients and 74 healthy controls. Patients were diagnosed with one of 12 different cancers, including breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer. This approach, called “Next Generation Blood Profiling," combines antibody-based Olink Proximity Extension Assay (PEA) technology with state-of-the-art next-generation sequencing. It is able to accurately estimate protein levels across multiple cancer categories.

Results indicate that a panel of 83 proteins can identify the cancer in a sample with relatively high selectivity and sensitivity. Researchers found several potential biomarkers, poised to redefine early cancer detection, risk stratification, and the vigilant monitoring of distinct cancer subtypes. This is true for all cancer types, demonstrating the advantage of using a panel of blood proteins rather than individual biomarkers.

This study showed a stark contrast between the blood proteome profiles of cancer patients with those of healthy individuals. What's more, the research shed light on a crucial insight — the blood proteome profiles among different cancer subtypes were unique. This discovery suggests that blood-based biomarkers can serve as a powerful tool for the differentiation of various cancer types.

The Promise of Revolutionizing Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Proteomics has the potential to revolutionize cancer diagnosis and treatment. These studies' use of Olink PEA technology and multiplex assay platform shows how powerful this tool can be for clinical oncology research. By taking advantage of the quantification of thousands of proteins in the plasma of cancer patients, diagnostics and treatment outcomes will change drastically.

With this technology, it will be possible to conduct population screenings. This would identify multiple cancer types in a single assay, potentially leading to the discovery of cancers early and helping to start cancer treatments at earlier stages.