UCL News


Ultra-high-sensitivity proteomics in cancer detection

6 June 2005

Professor Jasminka Godovac-Zimmerman and Dr Oliver Kleiner of the Rayne Institute have collaborated with cosmophysicist Dr Andrzej Drukier of Biotraces Inc.

Ultra high sensitivity MPD detection of Hela cells proteins in the development of a revolutionary new method for ultra-high-sensitivity, multi-photon-detection (MPD) of proteins. The method can be used in proteomics analysis of cells, and for the monitoring of serum protein profiles in breast cancer. MPD is 10,000 times more sensitive than current proteomics methods.

Professor Godovac-Zimmermann said: "MPD offers solutions to several crucial problems in proteomics. First, thousand-fold improvements in sensitivity allows for the detection of less abundant proteins, and also reduces the amounts of tissue or cell samples needed for proteomics analyses. Second, better quantitation of proteins improves understanding of complex biological networks in cells and tissues. Third, MPD allows analysis of whole proteins to identify exactly which protein variants are involved in diseases such as cancer. We expect that MPD will become a very widely used method."

In collaboration with Mr Richard Sainsbury from the UCL Department of Surgery, the team measured different blood serum proteins from breast cancer patients with the new, MPD-enabled immunoassay methods. For the first time, the MPD technology allowed researchers to measure very low abundance serum proteins involved in typical responses to cancers such as changes in immune responses and in formation of new blood vessels for all the patients.

Pilot studies show that using blood samples, breast cancer and several other types of epithelial cancers (ovarian, prostate, melanoma) can be detected with much better sensitivity and specificity. This may allow new, less intrusive, safer and much less expensive approaches for the early diagnosis of cancer, for distinguishing malignant and benign cancers, and for monitoring cancer therapy. The initial results were presented at the 27th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and a description of the method will appear in the forthcoming issue of Proteomics.

Image: Ultra-high-sensitivity MPD detection of Hela cells proteins.