Printed Glycan Array for Lung Cancer Detection

Perlmutter Cancer Center investigators are evaluating a novel means of detecting mesothelioma and lung cancer early through what could ultimately be a simple a blood test.

They have developed a unique cancer diagnostic approach that utilizes a "printed glycan array." This novel high-throughput platform contains 286 synthetic molecules (glycans) that are sugars often expressed on the surfaces of lung cells, including abnormal sugars produced by lung cancer cells in response to changes induced by the cancer process. Researchers can measure antibodies against these abnormal glycans in the blood of people with mesothelioma or lung adenocarcinoma or those at risk for these diseases. This test could also be a tool for identifying new therapeutic targets.

This research is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense, and foundation support. It is an international effort in collaboration with investigators in San Diego and Russia.

The scientists are developing this array as a global way of looking at molecules that may serve as very early markers to indicate that something is wrong inside lung or mesothelial cells. This information could be used to determine if someone is at risk for the mesothelioma or lung cancer, or if someone who already has the disease is likely to do poorly and may need more aggressive therapy.

Because lung adenocarcinoma is the most common cell type in nonsmokers, the array could also potentially be used to identify which nonsmokers are most at risk for lung cancer. Toward this goal, the Perlmutter Cancer Center is also partnering with the Canary Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to the goal of identifying cancer early through a simple blood test and then isolating it with imaging.