December 20, 2012

Cancer markers from archived tissue

Archived tissue samples are yielding new disease biomarkers.

(Wellcome Images)

Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Identifying protein biomarkers of the disease in archived tissue samples could facilitate earlier diagnosis of the disease and improve survival. While typical methods of preserving tissue (using formalin and paraffin) were thought to damage proteins, recent advances have now made it possible to isolate and identify proteins from such tissue samples.

James Goldenring, M.D., Ph.D., and Josane Sousa, Ph.D., along with collaborators in the Ayers Institute, Amy Ham, Ph.D., and Daniel Liebler, Ph.D., were able to perform proteomic analysis on archived formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples identified at Seoul National University in Korea. The researchers identified two proteins – LTF and DMBT1 – as specific markers for precursor lesions of gastric cancer. They also showed that lower levels of these markers correlated with more advanced disease and poor prognosis.

The findings, reported in the November American Journal of Pathology, demonstrate that archived FFPE tissue samples may hold the keys to identifying new biomarkers of diseases like cancer.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (DK071590, DK058404) and the National Cancer Institute (CA068485) of the National Institutes of Health.