Editors' ChoiceCancer

Detecting and treating brain cancer

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Sci. Signal.  13 Jun 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 483, eaao0437
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aao0437

A systems biology approach identifies plasma biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for patients with glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive brain cancer with few therapeutic options and few molecular markers to aid detection. Ghosh et al. integrated cell-surface proteomics and transcriptomics data from patient datasets to identify a molecular signature for GBM (called GBMSig) that was composed of 33 cell-surface transmembrane proteins. About half of the GBMSig proteins are associated with the transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) signaling pathway. Knocking down some of these proteins in a GBM cell line impaired its invasive behavior in culture. Assessing proteins in blood drawn from patients and healthy volunteers revealed that some of the GBMSig proteins (CD44, VCAM1, HMOX1, and BIGH3) were enriched in GBM patient plasma relative to that from healthy volunteers. Among patients, the abundances of all but VCAM1 were decreased in plasma after tumor resection. Thus, this systems-generated GBMSig reveals potential therapeutic targets as well as valuable, noninvasive clinical biomarkers.

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