Innovative tools for early detection of cancer

Ali Tiss, Amal Hasan, Abdelkrim Khadir, Mohammed Dehbi, Said Dermime

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Early-stage detection of cancer is the key to provide a better outcome for therapeutic intervention. Most routine screening tools for cancer detection are largely based on examination of cell morphology, tissue histology, and measurement of serum markers, which lack sufficient sensitivity and/or specificity for early detection of cancer. Indeed, most secreted proteins studied as cancer screening biomarkers have low sensitivity and/or low specificity, and this could be due to the use of nonsensitive techniques or due the fact that several of these tumor markers are also produced by normal tissues. Altogether, these facts pinpoint to the urgent need for the discovery of innovative tools and novel tumor markers for cancer screening, diagnosis, and prognosis. Recently, scientists and clinicians have shifted to innovative techniques in order to identify and characterize biomarkers that drive the development and progression of cancer and to discover upstream genes/proteins, which could be useful to detect early-stage cancer, predict prognosis, and determine therapy efficacy or to be novel drug targets. This chapter contains three sections that will discuss different but complementary innovative techniques that are being recently developed for the detection of early biomarkers in cancers. The first technique will focus on the use of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for the quantitation of the Wilms’ tumor gene (WT1) mRNA (WT1 assay). The WT1 mRNA is a relatively new marker of several types of leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This WT1 assay makes it possible to rapidly assess the effectiveness of treatment and to evaluate the degree of eradication of leukemic cells as well as the continuous assessment of the MDS progression and its evolution to overt acute myeloid leukemia. The second section will highlight the use of mass spectrometry (MS) technique as an important analytical tool in clinical proteomics, primarily in the disease-specific discovery, identification, and characterization of proteomic biomarkers and patterns. MS-based proteomics is increasingly being used in clinical validation and diagnostic method development. In this section, we will describe the current state of MS in clinical proteomics applied to early detection of cancer biomarkers with a focus on ovarian and breast cancers including both biomarker discovery and clinical diagnosis. In the last section, we will focus on the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technique, which is primarily used to detect bimolecular interaction and has recently gained enormous interest and popularity for its versatility and high sensitivity especially when it is coupled to MS.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCancer Biomarkers
Subtitle of host publicationMinimal and Noninvasive Early Diagnosis and Prognosis
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781466584297
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Biomarker discovery
  • Mass spectrometry
  • QPCR
  • SPR
  • WT1


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