MDS Analytical Technologies’ Laser Capture Microdissection Helps Facilitate Discovery of Potential New Colon-Cancer Biomarker
04 Feb 2009

MDS Analytical Technologies, a leader in innovative solutions for drug discovery and life sciences research, today announced that its Arcturus® Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM) instruments were used by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) in their discovery of genetic variations that may prove to be key predictors of risk for colon cancer and indicators of the disease’s progression.

Researchers hope that these important findings will provide doctors with much improved diagnostic tools for colon cancer. By identifying people that carry these genetic variations, doctors will be better equipped to determine the course of treatment for patients with the disease. This data may also prove important as doctors advise patients on health and lifestyle choices that may influence one’s risk of developing the disease.

“MDS Analytical Technologies is very pleased that its Arcturus line of LCM instruments played such a key role in this important discovery that may move us even closer to preventing more people from developing colon cancer,” said Andy Boorn, President of MDS Analytical Technologies. “By maintaining custody of the sample throughout the microdissection process, the Arcturus system removed any guesswork from the experiment, and allowed the researchers at the University of Cincinnati to collect only their desired material for this important study.”

As reported in the January 16, 2009 issue of PLoS Genetics, a peer-review, open-access scientific journal published by the U.S. Public Library of Science, scientists at UC used Arcturus® LCM systems to investigate the role that the abnormal regulation of a known prostate cancer biomarker – alpha-methylacyl-coenzyme A racemase (AMACR) – plays in colon cancer. AMACR is a protein that breaks down branched-chain fatty acids, which are found in red meats and dairy products, and are suspected to be risk factors for the disease.

“AMACR was recently shown to have abnormal expression patterns in colon cancer, but not much was known about how it’s regulated at the gene level,” said Shuk-mei Ho, Ph.D., Chair of UC’s Department of Environmental Health and senior author of the study. “Uncovering how the gene is abnormally activated in cancer will give us a better understanding of how to treat the disease in the end.”

To find answers, scientists at UC, along with researchers at the University of Massachusetts, used Arcturus® LCM instruments to enrich a homogenous population of cancer cells from colon carcinoma tissue, so that their data would not be obscured by non-carcinoma material that otherwise would be included in the analysis. Scientists analyzed a series of samples that represented the entire colon cancer progression, comparing the genetic sequences of the laser capture microdissected colon carcinoma cells with sequences from a general population. Comparative sequencing of the two groups of samples revealed the genetic variations that may be the triggers for abnormal protein expression found in colon cancer.

“Only by using LCM were we able to uncover these deletions in the AMACR sequence,” Dr. Ho said. “We needed to look at only the cancer cells versus normal cells, and LCM was the only way to achieve this level of sensitivity.”

In addition to the novel deletions, the study identified putative transcription factors that, under normal circumstances, may bind to the deleted sequence to regulate gene expression. The study also found a novel genetic variant in AMACR that is present in the general population, and which may influence the course of how colon cancer may progress.

“We need to start paying closer attention to how the environment in which we live and the things we put in our bodies interact with our genetic makeup to influence our cancer risk,” Dr. Ho added.

The UC research team expects to expand this research into a multi-center study in the near future. The project is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army Prostate Cancer Program.

ArcturusXT™ System
MDS Analytical Technologies will present the ArcturusXT™ system at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Meeting 2009, February 18-20 in Denver, CO (MDS Analytical Technologies’ booth #606). The system will also be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2009, April 19-22 in Denver, CO (MDS Analytical Technologies’ booth #546).

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