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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Joins National Proteomics Network

  Daniel Liebler, Ph.D.
  Daniel Liebler, Ph.D.

Federal government funds effort to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center will participate in a major nationwide initiative to standardize proteomic technologies aimed at improving the detection and treatment of cancer.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced today that it will provide $35.5 million over five years to a collaborative network of “teams” to conduct Clinical Proteomic Technology Assessment for Cancer (CPTAC).

The Vanderbilt team, which will receive about $7.6 million over the five-year period, is led by Daniel C. Liebler, Ph.D., director of the Proteomics Laboratory in the Vanderbilt Mass Spectrometry Research Center, and director of the Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis.

The other centers are: the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Purdue University; and the University of California, San Francisco, in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“Proteomic technologies measure proteins that are found in tissues and blood,” Liebler explained. “These complex mixtures of proteins are affected by the development of cancer, so the ability to detect protein combinations characteristic of disease could be a powerful means to detect cancer and monitor therapy.”

Currently, however, there is a lack of standardization and reliability of techniques used to analyze proteins.

The consortium will “carefully compare, improve and standardize procedures and methods for proteomic analysis,” Liebler said. The goal is to identify, in a reliable way, patterns of proteins that could serve as candidate “biomarkers” for cancer.

“This grant will help us move forward vital infrastructure and technology needed to evaluate key markers, and ultimately use the findings to detect cancers as early as possible, choose the best course of individualized therapy and monitor the effectiveness of that therapy,” said Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation Center for Molecular Markers at Houston’s M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, who is collaborating with the Vanderbilt team.

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