Thermo Fisher helps reveal how genetic mutations rewire cancer cells

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  • Published: Sep 18, 2015
  • Author: Jon Evans
  • Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Suppliers: Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Channels: HPLC / Proteomics & Genomics / Proteomics / Base Peak

Thermo Fisher Scientific and the Biotech Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) in Denmark have shared results from two important scientific papers that advance understanding of how gene mutations drive cancer progression. The two landmark studies, published this week in the journal Cell, are some of the early results of the strategic collaboration between Thermo Fisher Scientific and the Rune Linding Lab at BRIC.

Using advanced Thermo Scientific Orbitrap Fusion mass spectrometry and next-generation sequencing technologies, researchers from the universities of Copenhagen, Yale, Zurich, Rome and Tottori describe how specific cancer mutations target and damage the protein signaling networks within human cells on a global scale.

By developing advanced algorithms to integrate data from quantitative mass spectrometry and next-generation sequencing of tumor samples, the researchers have been able to uncover cancer-related changes to phosphorylation signaling networks. This new breakthrough allows scientists to identify the effects of genetic mutations on the function of protein pathways in cancer for individual patients, even if those mutations are very rare.

‘The identification of distinct changes within our tissues that could have the potential to help predict and treat cancer is a major step forward and we are confident that it can aid in the development of novel therapies and screening techniques,’ said Linding.

Since the human genome was decoded more than a decade ago, large-scale cancer genome studies have successfully identified gene mutations in individual patients and tumors. However to develop improved cancer therapies, researchers need to explain and relate this genomic data to proteins, the targets of most pharmaceutical drugs. Creating this linkage provides powerful new insights into cancer biology and potential therapeutic approaches.

‘The studies highlight the importance of integrating proteomics with genomics in future cancer studies and underscores the value of the broad technological expertise within Thermo Fisher,’ said Ken Miller, vice president of research product marketing, life sciences mass spectrometry at Thermo Fisher. ‘It is becoming increasingly apparent that the genetic basis for each patient’s cancer is subtly, but importantly, different. This realization will inevitably lead to a need for tools to acquire and assess patient-specific information to develop highly personalized therapies with the potential for much greater efficacy. It is hoped that the novel approaches described in these studies, together with best-in-class enabling technologies such as the Orbitrap and Ion Torrent systems, will continue to improve our knowledge of cancer biology.’

The two papers in Cell are entitled ‘Unmasking determinants of specificity in the human kinome’ and ‘Kinome-wide decoding of network-attacking mutations rewiring cancer signaling’.

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