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GEN News Highlights : Jul 14, 2011

Proteome Sciences and Buck Institute Ally on MS-Based Anti-Estrogen Therapy Resistance Assays

Clinical lab tests will monitor drug resistance-related post-translational modifications in estrogen receptor-alpha.

Proteome Sciences and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging will collaborate on the development of mass spectrometry-based breast cancer assays that identify post-translational changes in estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) indicative of resistance to anti-estrogen therapy.

The organizations hope that biomarker tests capable of monitoring changes in ERα modifications will help guide treatment decision making for individual patients and provide an early warning of the emergence of resistance to anti-estrogen receptor therapy.

Researchers at the Buck Institute have been studying how tumors become resistant to commonly used drugs such as the anti-estrogen tamoxifen, explains Chriz Benz, M.D., principal investigator at the Buck Institute. The results have highlighted key post-translational modifications (PTMs) in ERα that lead to drug resistance. “Because PTMs cannot be detected or predicted by genomic tests, mass spectrometry is used to detect PTMs directly in the tumor,” he continues. “With Proteome’s support and expertise, we expect to rapidly translate this into routine tests that significantly improve the predictive clinical value of this important breast cancer biomarker.”

Proteome’s deal with the Buck Institute comes just a week after the U.K.-based firm announced a collaboration with the Moffitt Cancer Center. This partnership is focused on developing mass spectrometry-based laboratory tests that measure signaling and repair pathway proteins in tumor biopsies, also to help guide individualized treatments and monitor drug efficacy.