A group of scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, led by Robert Bast Jr., M.D., vice president, Translational Research, and his team of scientists discovered a possible biomarker to test for ovarian cancer, which could save time on reaching a probable diagnosis and help initiate treatment earlier than usual.
Conventionally, the level of serum biomarkers in blood has been the only way to detect Ovarian Cancer until now. The only biomarker that has been constantly elevated in blood during ovarian cancer is CA125. However, this time, scientists have targeted the behavior of a patient’s immune response to the tumor antigens as a marker to detect the condition at an earlier stage.
According to Dr. Bast, “Most attempts to use serum biomarkers for early detection of ovarian cancer have focused on the protein CA125. As CA125 is expressed by only 80 percent of ovarian cancers, multiple biomarkers will be required to detect those cancers that fail to express this antigen.”
Blood samples for this study were obtained from patients with ovarian cancer up to seven years before diagnosis with the help of Dr. Ian Jacobs and Dr. Usha Menon, of the United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening.
The team checked the levels of antibodies produced against the tumor gene TP53 which is known to be mutated and over-expressed in patients with ovarian cancer. It was observed that patients who already had increased levels of CA12 had anti-TP53 (antibodies) detected 13 weeks prior to diagnosis, while in those without a rising CA125 level anti-TP53 antibodies were detected 33 weeks prior to diagnosis.
Dr. Bast commented, “While only a quarter of cases are associated with anti-TP53 autoantibodies, when present, these antibodies promise to detect ovarian cancer at an earlier interval than CA125.”
The results of this study were presented on April 20th during the 2015 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.