One key outcome of the use of mass spec in the NIH’s Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer program has been the improvement of the proteomic biomarker development pipeline. [iStock / nan_bkk]
Sample vial on paper with chemical formula

Genomic diagnostics for cancer have reached the clinic, but protein profiling to augment or confirm these analyses remains challenging. Proponents of the proteomics approach say that while it can contribute significantly to diagnostic decision-making, and despite remarkable progress in proteomic methods, these analytical tools have not been established in routine clinical practice.

Limitations preventing integration into the clinic include the high cost of equipment, the need for highly trained personnel and, particularly, the establishment of reliable and accurate protein biomarkers or panels of protein biomarkers for detection of neoplasms.

Investigators continue to cite the urgent need for blood-based molecular tests to assist in the detection and diagnosis of cancers at an early stage, when curative interventions are still possible, and to predict and monitor response to treatment and disease recurrence.

Many scientists believe that targeted proteomics, a sensitive and specific mass spectrometric analysis method to detect and quantitate pre-selected components in a complex sample matrix, such as a proteolytic digest of a plasma or tissue extract, provides a promising approach for exploration of the distinctions among disease states in different types of cancer.

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