Obscure Enzyme may Predict which Cancers will Spread - In a new study published in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, high levels of a protein called CPE-delta N accurately predicted 90 percent of the time whether a tumor moved on from its original site in patients with liver cancer or some rare forms of adrenal cancer.
"We can tell from the levels [of the protein] whether the tumor has spread, and we can predict whether the tumor is likely to recur in the same tumor or tissue or in other parts of the body," senior study author Y. Peng Loh, of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said during a Thursday news conference on the finding. "Currently, there are no accurate biomarkers that can achieve such predictions."
Cancer that has spread, or metastasized, is often fatal, and scientists have long tried to find ways to predict whether metastasis is likely to occur, not only to help guide and individualize treatment, but also to provide targets for potential future therapies.
Although it's still early, the results suggest it may be possible to develop tests that assess the likelihood of a cancer spreading and to treat it before it does so, the researchers say.
Doctors now use the stage and grade of a tumor to determine a patient's prognosis, and in this study those factors were far less accurate than the protein.
One expert found the finding intriguing.
Obscure Enzyme may Predict which Cancers will Spread