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2013 Highlights of Hope

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  • Institute
  • Detroit
  • Treatments
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  • October
  • Michigan
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  • Pancreatic

Research News Van Andel

Research News Van Andel Institute Discovery Could Help Diagnose Pancreatic Precancerous Cysts Arecent Van Andel Institute (VAI) study could lead to the development of tools that improve the diagnosis of cysts in the pancreas that are often hard-todetect in pancreatic cancer. Most pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed when symptoms appear in the patient, which is often when the cancer is advanced to a stage where current treatments are only mildly effective. This study provides insights into the detection of pre-cancerous cysts which are early markers for pancreatic cancer. The study builds on previous efforts by Van Andel Institute scientists to identify biomarkers found exclusively in the fluid from a specific kind of cyst – with a particular emphasis on basic molecular building blocks known as glycans and lectins. Glycans, carbohydrates that interact with glycanbinding proteins, are involved with many biological processes including the immune recognition of pathogens, pathogen infection, immune cell migration, protein regulation of cell-surface receptors, cancer progression and metastasis. Lectins are carbohydratebinding proteins that serve many biological functions in animals and play important roles in animal pathology and physiology by recognizing carbohydrates that are found exclusively on pathogens. The 2013 VAI research study advances the field of carbohydrate biology and has implications for the future of cancer diagnosis. The study, carried out with the Palo Alto Research Center, may aid in the development of biomarkers to help determine the stages of many types of cancers upon diagnosis. Dr. Brian Haab’s laboratory works to enable more accurate detection and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Professor, Van Andel Institute Center for Translational Medicine, Head of Laboratory of Cancer Immunodiagnostics and the lead author of the study. In the recent study, published in the journal of Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, researchers examined lectin-glycan interactions and consequently identified a three-marker panel that performed well in distinguishing mucinous from non-mucinous cysts in two independent sets of samples: 93% accuracy in a pre-validation sample set and 91% accuracy in independent blind samples. “If these results hold up in larger studies, the new biomarker will have the potential to positively affect clinical practice,“ said Dr. Haab. Two types of pancreatic cysts called mucinous neoplasms and mucinous cystic neoplasms, together called mucinous cysts, have malignant potential, while other nonmucinous cysts are essentially benign. Discovering the biomarkers for possible pancreatic cancer has direct implications for how this specific, deadly form of cancer is diagnosed and treated. “Cysts in the pancreas can be a clinical challenge to patients and physicians since some are precancerous and may progress to invasive cancer, while others remain indolent,” said Brian Haab, Ph.D., Associate Learn more about Dr. Brian Haab’s research and support his efforts at 6

Van Andel Institute and Michigan State University Make Important Parkinson’s Discovery Dr. Lena Brundin of Van Andel Institute and Michigan State University, along with Swedish researchers, has shown for the first time significant associations between high levels of inflammatory markers in cerebrospinal fluid and severe fatigue, depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment in some individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson´s disease is the second most common degenerative disorder of the central nervous system and one that strikes more than 60,000 Americans annually. The causes of the disease and its development are not yet fully understood. “We hypothesized that Parkinson’s patients would have higher mean levels of inflammatory markers than those in the reference group and that the highest levels would be observed in those with more severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and cognitive impairment,” said Dr. Brundin, one of the study’s authors. Neuroinflammation is suspected to be involved in the development of Parkinson’s disease, specifically non-motor symptoms such as depression and cognitive impairment. Research suggests that inflammation could drive some of the cell death that occurs in Parkinson’s disease. The development of new drugs that target this inflammation might slow disease progression. Results from pre-clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that neuroinflammation may play an important role in the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, which is the pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Lena Brundin’s discovery might have implications for Parkinson’s disease treatment. The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Lund University, Lund, Sweden; Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden; Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida; Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Van Andel Institute Center for Translational Medicine, Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The degree of neuroinflammation was significantly associated with more severe depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment even after controlling for appropriate confounders such as age, gender, somatic illness and, when appropriate, dementia diagnosis, and Parkinson’s disease duration,” Brundin said. The aim of the joint study was to measure inflammatory markers in cerebrospinal fluid samples from Parkinson’s patients and a reference group and to investigate correlations between nonmotor symptoms and inflammation. Learn more about Dr. Brundin’s research and support her efforts at 7

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