A groundbreaking cancer detection study published in Cell  cites the use of HemaCare-sourced human bone marrow.
The Cell publication is part of a global collaborative effort based in 8 different countries, including several U.S. based cancer research institutes. Their goal is simple; find a way to detect cancer early, no matter where it originates in the human body, thereby securing the best possible chance of treating patients successfully.
To say that there is an unmet need for early cancer detection is an understatement. But cancer is a notoriously complicated family of diseases. It occurs in many different body tissues and exhibits many different, and often unidentified, telltale biomarkers.
While pathologists today often use tissue biopsy samples to detect the presence of cancer, liquid biopsies are less invasive, and may be able to detect cancer at an earlier stage. For this reason, the authors based their research on the use of extracellular vesicles and particles (EVP). EVP are used by the body for intercellular communication and contain proteins and genetic material from the cells that secrete them. EVP are actively released into the peripheral blood circulation, making them relatively easy to sample and analyze. Additionally, earlier studies  have already provided evidence that it is possible for EVP to be used for early cancer detection and disease prognosis.
With this knowledge in hand, the authors set out to analyze an extensive array of human tissue samples. These included samples from human peripheral blood plasma and bone marrow plasma (acquired from HemaCare), colorectal tissue, breast tissue, lung tissue, and pancreatic tissue, all of which are subject to particularly aggressive cancers. Using mass-spectrometry based proteomic profiling, the researchers examined paired tumor and adjacent healthy tissue samples, with the aim of identifying both novel EVP universal markers, and cancer-specific protein signatures.
The data collected in this study provided a treasure trove of information; the scientists were able to construct a database of EVP proteomes from 426 different human tissue samples. They discovered that sample source was the strongest determinant of EVP protein signature; for example, human blood plasma EVP overlapped most with human serum-derived EVP, followed by human bone marrow plasma and lymphatic fluid.
By comparing tissue samples, the authors identified proteins that distinguish tumors from normal tissues with 90% sensitivity and 94% specificity. They were able to define a panel of tumor-type-specific EVP proteins which can be used to classify tumors of unknown primary origin. Ultimately, this pioneering study has established that EVP proteins can serve as reliable biomarkers for cancer detection and for determining cancer type.
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- Hoshino A., et al. Extracellular Vesicle and Particle Biomarkers Define Multiple Human Cancers. Cell. 182, 1-18. Aug 2020.
- Chen, I.H., e al. Phosphoproteins in extracellular vesicles as candidate markers for breast cancer. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 114, 3175–3180. 2017.