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Newly identified biomarker detects and regulates spread of brain tumors

Researchers at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute have identified a novel biomarker for brain tumors and have uncovered a potential role the marker may play when the tumor spreads or comes back after treatment. The study, ÒAttractin is elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with malignant astrocytoma and mediates glioma cell migration," is published in the November issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

The biomarker, a protein known as "soluble attractin," is normally absent in the central nervous system (CNS) and is undetectable in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), unless malignant astrocytomas--the most common form of intracranial tumors--are present in the CNS. The CSF is a liquid that bathes the brain and acts as a reservoir, which can be sampled for analysis of proteins secreted by CNS tumors.

This newfound ability to reliably identify biomarkers for malignant astrocytomas means that physicians will have a new minimally invasive method to track the success of treatments. These biomarkers, singly or in combination, will provide a fingerprint of the disease and be able in the future to better define the disease, predict what kind of treatment to use and allow doctors to monitor how well the tumor responds to treatment.

"Using proteomic analyses of the CSF of patients with brain tumors, we have identified for the first time that attractin levels are elevated in patients with high-grade astrocytoma," says Erwin Van Meir, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and hematology/oncology and lead author of the study. "Because few noninvasive methods are available for monitoring CNS malignancies, there is an urgent need to find reliable indicators."

Van Meir and his colleagues analyzed 60 cerebrospinal fluid or cyst fluid samples from patients with various CNS diseases using proteomics to examine simultaneously all proteins in biological samples. To validate the study's results, attractin levels in a set of 100 normal and t
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Source:Emory University Health Sciences Center


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