Serum protein pattern profiling by SELDI-MS (surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry) is emerging as a novel approach to discover protein patterns capable of distinguishing disease and disease-free states with high sensitivity and specificity. Researchers have discovered a new protein, a unique marker, found in the tears of cancer patients that can be used to detect and screen for breast cancer.
Tears are the filtered product of blood and epithelial markers (such as those found in the breast are also found in tears). There are no reports in the literature on the use of SELDI-MS on tears of cancer patients. There is a single case report on HIV patients that showed distinctive results. SELDI of tears can be done directly on tears requiring no separation or processing. Collection is relatively easy and non-invasive to the patient, which could lead to development of a novel and easy screening tool for the detection of breast cancer.
Serum-based screening tools to enhance existing methods of detecting cancer have been promising for ovarian cancer, prostate, colon and breast. The majority of these analyses have been performed using a combination of liquid chromatography and MS. However, the large number of proteins makes these techniques tedious and difficult not only to perform but to interpret.
With the serum protein pattern profiling by SELDI-MS (surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry), this process is much less complicated. It is emerging as a novel approach to discover protein patterns capable of distinguishing disease and disease-free states with high sensitivity and specificity. In this case, we have singled out a protein which, when present, we believe is indicative of the presence of breast cancer.
So by gathering a minute sample of lacrimal fluid and analyzing it with SELDI-MS, we are able to determine if this specific protein is present with little to no difficulty and accurate results.
Possible future long-term goals of this project would be to develop a screening tool for the detection of breast cancer as well as a tool to assess treatment response. We hope that this could be used routinely as pregnancy tests are today, with women screening themselves in the comfort of their own home.
05-11 (D) Klimberg