In cancer, many processes and functions of cells are changed. One such change is the presence of errors in the DNA sequence of cancer cells. By searching for these errors in blood samples from patients, one could use these as a means to detect the disease. In early disease, the presence of these errors in blood is scarce compared to normal cells, making their detection difficult. Recently, in addition to mutations, the DNA has also been observed to be chemically changed at an early stage. One such change (DNA Methylation) is vastly different in cancer cells and it covers larger regions of DNA, making it easier to detect. Analyzing these patterns from blood could be a viable means to detecting cancer in its early stages. In this proposal, we will map out the profile of patients who develop Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). We will use blood samples from a large number of patients that were diagnosed with the disease. Importantly, we have identified samples from patients who have particularly aggressive forms of the disease. Our objective is to create biomarkers to identify the disease early through blood samples, differentiate aggressive disease from benign ones. This allows us to treat lethal cancers with more aggressive therapy at an earlier stage. Together, we propose an exciting opportunity to detect cancer early and identify patients who could benefit from treatment before their cancer grows beyond control.
Location: OHSU Knight Cancer Institute - NC
Proposal: A DNA methylation predictor for early detection of lethal AML