Scientists make potentially life-saving discovery

19th July 2011

In what could be a big breakthrough for cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment, scientists have been able identify between proteins at a molecular level and see which indicate disease.

A new research paper, carried out by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) at the University of Edinburgh, reveals the way antibodies distinguish between different 'biomarkers' - proteins which show information about the condition of the human body.

The research focused on a hormone called hCG, a hormone produced during pregnancy. A subunit of hCG is secreted by some cancers. This means detection can give an early warning of tumours and cancer.

It is hoped that advances described in this research will enable further development to identify other biomarkers from similar groups. Drug companies could use this to develop new diagnostics procedures and disease treatments.

Max Ryadnov, principal research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory, said: "This work answers one of the big questions in distinguishing biomarkers which are critical for identifying and treating serious diseases. We hope this breakthrough will underpin the development of a range of new diagnostic techniques and treatment."

Such discoveries are likely to become even more important, with a study by Macmillan Cancer Support showing that more than four in ten Brits will be diagnosed with cancer in their lives.

Posted by Philip Briggs

1 C. R. Gregor, E. Cerasoli, J. Schouten, J. Ravi, J. Slootstra, A. Horgan, G. J. Martyna, M. G. Ryadnov, P. Davis, J. Crain. Antibody Recognition of a Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Epitope (hCG 66-80) Depends on Local Structure Retained in the Free Peptide. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011

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