Multicenter Proteomics Partnership Aims To Better Diagnose, Treat Cancer

Ellis_Matthew
Matthew Ellis, MB, BChir, PhD

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Reid Townsend, MD, PhD

Contact:
Julia Evangelou Strait
314-286-0141
straitj@wustl.edu 

Aug. 22, 2011 – Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Boise State University have been named partners in one of five U.S. centers that will use genetic data to search for proteins that are abnormally made by cancer cells. 

The partnerships form the new Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC) Centers supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

“We are looking for proteins in the blood that result from the genetic abnormalities causing the cancer,” says Siteman Cancer Center medical oncologist Matthew J. Ellis, MB, BChir, PhD, professor and chief of breast oncology at Washington University School of Medicine, who is leading the research at one of the five centers. “The hope is those proteins can then be used for cancer screening, diagnosis and therapy.”

This relatively new field examining the proteins that result from the DNA errors in tumor cells is called cancer proteomics. It has benefited from a technical revolution similar to that seen in DNA sequencing, with a rapid increase in sensitivity and accuracy over the last five years.

Following the NCI's investment in sequencing whole genomes of cancer patients to identify the mutations causing cancer, including the Cancer Genome Atlas project, efforts are shifting toward extracting the medical value of this massive catalogue of genetic information. Since abnormal expression of these proteins is driven by the fundamental DNA differences between normal and cancer cells, the successful detection of cancer proteins in the blood would likely have great value for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

In collaboration with experts in the cancer proteomics field – including Reid Townsend, MD, PhD, of Washington University and Siteman; Xian Chen, PhD, of the University of North Carolina; and Morgan Giddings, PhD, of Boise State University – the NCI’s award will bring together the existing clinical and proteomics expertise at Washington University and the University of North Carolina as well as the advanced cancer profiling capabilities at Washington University’s Genome Institute.

The CPTAC Proteome Characterization Centers, by project title, are:

Cancer Proteomic Center at Washington University, University of North Carolina and Boise State University

  • Washington University, St. Louis
    Principal Investigators: Matthew Ellis, MB, BChir, PhD, and Reid Townsend, MD, PhD
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Principal Investigator: Xian Chen, PhD
  • Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
    Principal Investigator: Morgan Giddings, PhD

Center for Application of Advanced Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash.
    Principal Investigators: Richard Smith, PhD, and Karin Rodland, PhD

Proteo-Genomic Discovery, Prioritization and Verification of Cancer Biomarkers

  • The Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass.
    Principal Investigator: Steven Carr, PhD
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
    Principal Investigator: Amanda Paulovich MD, PhD

Proteome Characterization Center: A GenoProteomics Pipeline for Cancer Biomarkers

  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
    Principal Investigators: Daniel Chan, PhD, Zhen Zhang, PhD, and Hui Zhang, PhD

Vanderbilt Proteome Characterization Center

  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
    Principal Investigator: Daniel Liebler, PhD

For more information on the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium and other programs by the Office of Cancer Clinical Proteomics Research, visit http://proteomics.cancer.gov.