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Vanderbilt discovery may advance colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment
Date:7/22/2014

A Vanderbilt University-led research team has identified protein "signatures" of genetic mutations that drive colorectal cancer, the nation's second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer.

The technological tour de force, described in the current issue of the journal Nature as the first integrated "proteogenomic" characterization of human cancer, "will enable new advances" in diagnosing and treating the disease, the scientists concluded.

"It's a first-of-its-kind paper. I think it's a very important advance in the field," said senior author Daniel Liebler, Ph.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

The research team, representing Vanderbilt and six other institutions, is part of the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), sponsored by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Proteomics is the study of proteins. While many genetic mutations associated with cancer have been identified, it has been more difficult to analyze the structure and function of proteins that actually do cancer's "work." Until now.

The researchers used advanced mass spectrometry techniques to gather proteomic data on 95 human colorectal tumor samples characterized previously by The Cancer Genome Atlas, a federally funded project to identify genetic abnormalities in cancer.

Data analysis was led by first author Bing Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Informatics. "Integrating the proteomics data with the vast amount of pre-existing genomic data is a daunting task," Zhang said, "however, it is also the key to turn the data into novel insights."

It is a basic biological principle that DNA the genetic code is "transcribed" into messenger RNA, then "translated" into proteins. Yet the researchers found that abnormalities in the genes or eve
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Contact: Craig Boerner
craig.boerner@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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