Raghuraman Kannan, PhD, (left)
and Gerald Arthur, MD
A novel nanoplatform for accurate detection of biomarkers in tumor tissues
Patient response rates for many targeted cancer therapies are directly dependent on the overexpression of specific molecular targets in tumor tissues. Thus, "companion" diagnostics that can precisely identify and quantify targets such as ligand receptors have become important for the success of targeted therapies. The principal investigators have developed a gold nanorod based histochemistry (GNR-HC) platform that they have proven can identify and quantify a variety of target biomarkers in tumor tissues in ways superior to existing methods.
The first target validated was Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), a biomarker expressed in multiple types of cancer including colorectal adenocarcinoma, non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), head and neck carcinoma, and glioblastoma.
The second validated biomarker was the cMET protein, which plays a role in progression of NSCLC, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and gastrointestinal tumors.
The heterogeneous nature of cancer necessitates the identification and quantitation of major/driver mutations in each patient so that a "personalized" treatment plan can be constructed. The principal investigators will now use their platform to develop an in situ hybridization assay for detection of EGFR mutations that have been shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of NSCLC through the enhancement of tyrosine kinase activity (T790M and L858R). The combined information on protein targets and point mutations will provide the comprehensive data needed to devise a patient-specific treatment plan for NSCLC patients.