Proteomics for hepatocellular carcinoma marker discovery
Refinements of serological markers and screening of patients at high risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) may lead to better HCC detection, earlier intervention, and successful treatment, improving long-term outcomes. Proteomics promises the discovery of biomarkers for early HCC detection and diagnosis. Proteomic-based profiling uniquely allows delineation of global changes in expression patterns resulting from transcriptional and posttranscriptional control, posttranslational modifications, and shifts in proteins between cellular compartments. Approaches to that effect include direct serum protein profiling and comparative analysis of protein expression in normal, precancerous, and early-stage tumor tissues. Identification of panels of tumor antigens that elicit a humoral response also may contribute to the discovery of new markers for HCC screening and diagnosis. Today, 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, multidimensional liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and protein microarrays are among the proteomic tools available for biomarker and drug target discovery. We review these technologies and their application to the study of HCC. Our objective is to provide a framework for appreciating the promise, while at the same time understanding the challenges behind translating proteomics discovery into novel diagnostic tests.
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