• Thursday, April 18, 2024


New study reveals innovative approach for early detection of ovarian cancer

“Our results allow doctors to optimise their therapeutic strategy for ovarian cancer, therefore, they may be useful for realising personalised medicine’, the researchers said

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

A study conducted by Nagoya University in Japan has identified three previously unknown membrane proteins associated with ovarian cancer.

The research team utilised a novel technique involving nanowires coated with polyketone to capture these proteins, offering a new approach to diagnose ovarian cancer.

The discovery of these new biomarkers holds significant importance for the early detection of ovarian cancer, as the disease is challenging to identify during its initial stages when treatment is most effective.

One method of detecting cancer involves examining extracellular vesicles (EVs), particularly exosomes, which are small proteins released by tumours.

These proteins can be isolated from bodily fluids such as blood, urine, and saliva since they are present outside the cancer cells.

However, the lack of reliable biomarkers for ovarian cancer detection has hindered the use of this approach.

To address this limitation, a research group led by Akira Yokoi from Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine and Mayu Ukai from the Institute for Advanced Research extracted both small and medium/large EVs from high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC), the most prevalent type of ovarian cancer.

The proteins within these EVs were analysed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to further understand their characteristics.

Initially their research was challenging. “The validation steps for the identified proteins were tough because we had to try a lot of antibodies before we found a good target,” said Yokoi.

“As a result, it became clear that the small and medium/large EVs are loaded with clearly different molecules. Further investigation revealed that small EVs are more suitable biomarkers than the medium and large type. We identified the membrane proteins FRa, Claudin-3, and TACSTD2 in the small EVs associated with HGSC.”

After successfully identifying the proteins associated with ovarian cancer, the research group proceeded to explore whether they could utilise a method to capture EVs in a manner that enables the detection of cancer presence.

To achieve this, they collaborated with nanowire specialist Takao Yasui from Nagoya University’s Graduate School of Engineering and Dr Inokuma from the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

Combining their expertise, the researchers developed polyketone chain-coated nanowires (pNWs) as a technological solution.

These specialised nanowires were particularly suited for the separation of exosomes from blood samples, providing a means to isolate and detect these crucial biomarkers.

“pNW creation was tough,” Yokoi said. “We must have tried 3-4 different coatings on the nanowires. Although polyketones are a completely new material to use to coat this type of nanowire, in the end, they were such a good fit.”

“Our findings showed that each of the three identified proteins is useful as a biomarker for HGSCs,” said Yokoi.

“The results of this research suggest that these diagnostic biomarkers can be used as predictive markers for specific therapies. Our results allow doctors to optimise their therapeutic strategy for ovarian cancer, therefore, they may be useful for realising personalised medicine.”

(With inputs from ANI)

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