Researchers Call for Inclusion of Proteomics in National Cancer Moonshot

Targeting cancer-driving proteins may further efforts in personalized cancer medication research.

Researchers are calling for a shift that goes beyond the use of genomics and into proteomics to help target cancer-driving proteins and further the National Cancer Moonshot.

In January, President Barack Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden leader of the Moonshot initiative during his State of the Union Address. It’s expected that by next year, approximately $1 billion will fund the initiative’s goals, focusing on genomics, immunotherapy, and combination therapies.

Although researchers from the Inova Schar Cancer Institute and George Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine praise the Moonshot, their study published in the American Association for Cancer Research stressed the importance of proteins in personalized cancer medicines.

“After all, while the genome is the information archive, it is the proteins that actually do the work of the cell and represent the structural cellular machinery,” wrote study authors Emanuel ‘Chip’ Petricoin and Thomas P Conrads. “It is the proteins that comprise most of the biomarkers that are measured to detect cancers, constitute the antigens that drive immune response and inter- and intracellular communications, and it is the proteins that are the drug targets for nearly every targeted therapy that is being evaluated in cancer trials today.”

Past studies conducted by Mason researchers used proteomics to find personalized treatments for patients with metastatic breast cancer, opening doors for patients who previously had no treatment options.

“The involvement of our existing clinical proteomics efforts in a variety of cutting-edge precision medicine trials today, and the results we are seeing firsthand by including proteomics in a 'multi-omic' engine for precision medicine, serve to validate our investment in the area as well as reaffirm the need to be a world leader in the arena,” Petricoin said.

In December, a strategic partnership was announced between Inova and George Mason to share resources and conduct translation research to help benefit patients in the community.

“Establishment of the Inova-George Mason University Center for Clinical Proteomics affirms the strong commitment of these 2 prominent Northern Virginia institutions to the precision medicine renaissance and the recognition that major strides will only be possible through dedicated support for and inclusion of proteomics in this initiative,” Conrads said.