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Glycomics Used to Find Biomarkers for Breast Cancer

Comments by J. C. Spencer

Surface carbohydrates on cells serve as points of attachment for other cell infectious bacteria and many other molecules We have long known that certain sugars play a major role in developing healthy cells.  More healthy glycoprotein receptor sites on the surface of cells indicate the cells are healthy.  Cancer cells do not have (or have fewer) glycoprotein receptors. Glycomics research (the study of sugars) suggests that glycan profiles may contain distinct biomarkers to denote signatures of cancer.  Our earlier postings indicate that measuring the amount of sugars on the cell surface is the future in diagnostics.

Here is the Abstract:

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A serum glycomics approach to breast cancer biomarkers.

Because the glycosylation of proteins is known to change in tumor cells during the development of breast cancer, a glycomics approach is used here to find relevant biomarkers of breast cancer. These glycosylation changes are known to correlate with increasing tumor burden and poor prognosis. Current antibody-based immunochemical tests for cancer biomarkers of ovarian (CA125), breast (CA27.29 or CA15-3), pancreatic, gastric, colonic, and carcinoma (CA19-9) target highly glycosylated mucin proteins. However, these tests lack the specificity and sensitivity for use in early detection. This glycomics approach to find glycan biomarkers of breast cancer involves chemically cleaving oligosaccharides (glycans) from glycosylated proteins that are shed or secreted by breast cancer tumor cell lines. The resulting free glycan species are analyzed by MALDI-FT-ICR MS. Further structural analysis of the glycans can be performed in FTMS through the use of tandem mass spectrometry with infrared multiphoton dissociation. Glycan profiles were generated for each cell line and compared. These methods were then used to analyze sera obtained from a mouse model of breast cancer and a small number of serum samples obtained from human patients diagnosed with breast cancer or patients with no known history of breast cancer. In addition to the glycosylation changes detected in mice as mouse mammary tumors developed, glycosylation profiles were found to be sufficiently different to distinguish patients with cancer from those without. Although the small number of patient samples analyzed so far is inadequate to make any legitimate claims at this time, these promising but very preliminary results suggest that glycan profiles may contain distinct glycan biomarkers that may correspond to glycan "signatures of cancer."

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2007 Jan;6(1):43-55. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

Kirmiz C, Li B, An HJ, Clowers BH, Chew HK, Lam KS, Ferrige A, Alecio R, Borowsky AD, Sulaimon S, Lebrilla CB, Miyamoto S.

Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.

PMID: 16847285 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health

Last Updated ( Aug 04, 2008 at 01:47 PM )