Researchers find new gastric cancer biomarkers

KUALA LUMPUR: Researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) have exploited the power of big data to identify two key biomarkers contributing to the proliferation and metastasis of gastric (stomach) cancer.

Led by Professor Wang Wen-ching and using the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs, the research team conducted targeted therapy which can effectively eliminate tumour growth and inhibit metastasis, paving the way for a new tailored therapy.

Their research has been published in the newest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, according to a statement.

Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide, and the second highest mortality rate because of its gruelling and difficult treatment for many patients.

Wang said it often happened that by the time someone was diagnosed, cancer cells had already metastasised.

Wang’s team has been working on unravelling the mechanism underlying the spread of cancer cells and finding new biomarkers, with a goal of developing a new tailored therapy.

“The major reason for the spread of gastric cancer cells is the ineffectiveness of the protein phosphatase and tensin homolog, the tumour suppressor protein which acts like a brake. When the brake fails, cancer cells will proliferate, expand, and grow into dangerous metastatic tumours,” explained Wang.

The team’s first task was to determine the basis of this ‘brake failure’ and the research team has collected information from over 300 cases of gastric cancer and used big data to derive the biological pathway that lead to cancer progression from over 30,000 potential genes.

The team used zebrafish and mice models to provide the proof-of-evidence that midostaurin treatment can shrink tumours and curb further spread of the cancer. – Bernama