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Now two months old, "Cc:" is the first and only one of 87 implanted cloned cat embryos to survive, say researchers at Texas A&M University (Nature Online, http://www. nature.com/nsu/020211/020211-13. html). She is completely unlike her surrogate mother but is a genetic match to her donor mother.

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February 18, 2002
Volume 80, Number 7
CENEAR 80 7 p. 13
ISSN 0009-2347
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Proteomics shows promise for early detection of deadly disease


A new proteomic test could help improve the survival rates for ovarian cancer by making it easier to diagnose the disease in its early stages. Ovarian cancer is usually detected at a late stage and consequently has a low five-year survival rate.

A team of scientists and physicians from the Food & Drug Administration, the National Cancer Institute, the Bethesda, Md.-based bioinformatics company Correlogic Systems, and other organizations combined mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to identify proteomic patterns in blood samples that are indicative of ovarian cancer [Lancet, 359, 572 (2002)].

The protein signatures were generated by comparing mass spectra of blood serum samples from 50 women with ovarian cancer and 50 women without ovarian cancer. The patterns were then used to classify another 116 samples. Of those, all 50 cases of cancer--including 32 in stage I--were correctly diagnosed. Of the 66 noncancerous samples, 63 were correctly classified. The positive predictive value (a measure of the reliability of the test) was 94% for the proteomic test, compared with 35% for the same samples using a common biomarker for ovarian cancer.

"We think this [predictive value] may improve with more training of the artificial intelligence tool," says lead author Emanuel F. Petricoin III, codirector of the FDA-NCI Clinical Proteomics Program, "but it will be challenging to maintain 100% sensitivity and 95% specificity."

The next step is to use the test with larger groups of patients. The test will probably not be used alone. "We feel that no single test, even one that looks at millions of combinations of serum proteins, should be used as a stand-alone and that the more information the physician has at his disposal, the better," Petricoin says.

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