| National Cancer Institute Announces Awards to
Accelerate Cancer Biomarker Discovery
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes
of Health, announced that SAIC-Frederick, Inc. has made two-year
awards under a competitive solicitation totaling $13.4 million to
two research teams from 10 cancer research institutions. The awards
reflect a new collaborative team approach to develop the standard
tools and resources needed to accelerate protein biomarker discovery
to provide new and highly specific approaches to the early detection
and diagnosis of cancer.
The teams of researchers will use transgenic (genetically defined)
mouse models of human cancers to study current proteomic technologies,
compare results, and provide reference data sets and biological
resources for widespread research use throughout the cancer research
community. This approach will enable comparability of results among
multiple laboratories currently using different proteomic technologies.
In addition, the common data sets and resources will make it easier
to develop and test the next generation of technologies for biomarker
discovery. This framework will provide direction for the development
of specific strategies to target biomarkers that signal the earliest
stages of cancer in humans.
When completed, this two-year effort will result in the first reliable
and broad-based technological platform for the discovery and clinical
validation of protein biomarkers for cancer. Data and information
will be closely integrated and distributed through the cancer Biomedical
Informatics Grid (caBIG), an open-source, open-access, information
network linking teams of cancer and biomedical researchers.
"Proteomics holds enormous potential for the early detection
of cancer, but researchers must have standard reagents and reproducible
technologies to accelerate the discovery and development of these
biomarkers into clinical use," said Andrew von Eschenbach,
M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute. "We believe
that this unique network with its teams of experts will speed
up the development of effective proteomic technologies for the benefit
of cancer patients and their families."
Proteomics is the large-scale study of protein function and expression.
When cells become cancerous, they can release unique proteins and
other molecules into the blood and other bodily fluids. These molecules
may serve as early biomarkers, or indicators of cancer. Identifying
protein biomarkers is extremely difficult, however, due to the large
number of proteins in the body and the fact that their structures
are frequently modified in response to environmental and other stresses
in cells. While current and future technologies are expected to
be sufficiently robust to discover these proteins, researchers will
need well-characterized and standardized materials and resources
to validate and compare results across different laboratories.
"To be effective in cancer research, discovery and development,
we need to establish a strong basis of comparability of data especially
in proteomics," said NCI Deputy Director Anna D. Barker, Ph.D.
"These awards reflect NCI's commitment to creating the cross-disciplinary,
cross-institutional partnerships that will be the hallmark of the
research enterprise in the 21st century, both to advance our knowledge
of cancer and to translate it with a sense of urgency into new interventions
that will reduce suffering and save lives."
These teams of researchers will develop a range of important resources
- Evaluating proteomic techniques for tissue collection, sample
preparation and measurement
- Developing more effective proteomic technologies for detecting
and identifying proteins and protein fragments in serum
- Creating resources, such as serum and plasma specimen repositories,
antibodies and peptide reagents, to serve as common community
- Establishing a publicly available database, including bioinformatics
support, for analyzing proteomics data
The mouse models of human cancers are well-documented resources
for cancer researchers to test the effectiveness of a wide range
of proteomics technologies to support the discovery of biomarkers
for cancer. Researchers from all sectors will be able to use the
resources developed in this program to validate their methods and
meaningfully compare mouse and human proteome data to discover new
The proteomics awards announced today are part of NCI's ongoing
efforts to provide scientists with the resources necessary to optimize
and accelerate the development of advanced cancer technologies.
Other related and complementary efforts are in the fields of nanotechnology
through the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer (http://nano.cancer.gov
), and in bioinformatics through the cancer Biomedical Informatics
One of the proteomics research teams is headed by Samir Hanash,
M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan. Other members of the
- Gilbert Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., and David States, M.D., Ph.D., of
the University of Michigan
- Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., and David Sarracino, Ph.D., of the
Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics
- Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., and Alice Shaw, M.D., Ph.D., of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology
- Ronald Dephino, M.D., and Nabeel Bardeesy, Ph.D., of the Dana
Farber Cancer Institute
- Brian Haab, Ph.D., of the Van Andel Research Institute
- Harold Varmus, M.D., of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Martin McIntosh, Ph.D., and Amanda Paulovich, M.D., Ph.D., of the
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are leading the other proteomics
research team, whose members include:
- Christopher Kemp, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research
- Ruedi Aebersold, Ph.D., of the Institute for Systems Biology
- Richard Smith, Ph.D., of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- N. Leigh Anderson, Ph.D., of the Plasma Proteome Institute.
For more information about cancer, visit the NCI Web site at
http://www.cancer.gov or call
NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).