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Biological Chemistry

Peptide Monitoring Could Aid Cancer Treatment

by Stu Borman
May 19, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 20

In work that could lead to ways to assess how well individual patients respond to cancer treatment, researchers have identified 153 peptides from proteins that are not normally found in blood and are released by cancer cells during chemotherapy (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2014, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1405987111). James A. Wells of the University of California, San Francisco, and coworkers used an enzymatic enrichment technique they developed earlier to isolate proteins released when chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells. They then used mass spectrometry to identify the component peptides. “If demonstrated to correlate with treatment efficacy, these markers could be of great use in early-stage studies of new anticancer compounds or other therapeutics that lead to apoptotic cell death,” the researchers write. Wells and coworkers plan to carry out studies to validate that the markers are coming from tumor cells exclusively, and they plan to expand their work to a wider range of cancers than the blood cancers they have analyzed so far. The approach might also prove useful for evaluating the treatment of other conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, they add.


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