Tag Archives: cysts

Researchers Discover Antibody that May Help Detect Ovarian Cancer in its Earliest Stages

Captured by Rush Medical Center

Using a new approach to developing biomarkers for the very early detection of ovarian cancer, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have identified a molecule in the bloodstream of infertile women that could one day be used to screen for those at high risk for the disease — or even those with early-stage ovarian cancer.

The molecule, an antibody that the human body manufactures, is an autoimmune response to mesothelin. This well-studied protein is found in abundance on the surface of ovarian cancer cells but present only in limited amounts in normal human tissue.

The study is published in the online version issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, published by the American Society for Cancer Research.

“The finding is extremely important because at present medical tests are unable to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages, which is why death rates from this disease are so high,” said Judith Luborsky, PhD, professor of pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology and preventive medicine at Rush and lead author of the study.

“Our approach to discovering cancer biomarkers was unique in this study. Instead of investigating molecules specific to ovarian cancer alone, we asked what molecules women with a risk of ovarian cancer and those with ovarian cancer had in common,” Luborsky said.

The study enabled the researchers to explain the link between infertility and ovarian cancer that has been established in numerous epidemiological surveys. Read more…

Benign or Cancerous? Gene Test Predicts Cancer Potential in Pancreatic Cysts

Captured by Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins scientists have developed a gene-based test to distinguish harmless from precancerous pancreatic cysts.  The test may eventually help some patients avoid needless surgery to remove the harmless variety. A report on the development is published in the July 20 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

The investigators estimate that fluid-filled cysts are identified in more than a million patients each year, most of whom have undergone CT or MRI scans to evaluate non-specific symptoms, such as abdominal pain and swelling.

Bert Vogelstein, M.D., co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and his colleagues analyzed precancerous cysts from 19 patients and searched for mutations in 169 cancer-causing genes. They found mutations in the KRAS gene, well-known for its prevalence in pancreatic cancers, and the GNAS gene, which had not previously been associated with pancreatic cancer. In both KRAS and GNAS, the mutations occur at a single coding spot in the DNA, the equivalent of a typo in a word within an entire encyclopedia. KRAS and GNAS genes produce signaling proteins, relaying signals from the cell surface to areas within the cell.

The researchers then tested a total of 132 precancerous pancreatic cysts for mutations in KRAS and GNAS. GNAS mutations were found in more than half of the samples (87 of them), and KRAS mutations occurred in 107 samples. Nearly all (127) had mutations in GNAS, KRAS or both. The mutations occurred in large and small, high- and low-grade cysts, and in all major types of the most common precancerous pancreatic cysts. There were no major differences in age, gender or smoking history for people with GNAS or KRAS mutations in their cysts’ cells. Read more…