NAUTIK - Auto-antibody signatures as a test method for early cancer detection

NAUTIK - Auto-antibody signatures as a test method for early cancer detection

According to the Robert Koch Institute, an estimated 490,000 Germans were newly diagnosed with cancer in 2012. That is about 90,000 people more than 10 years ago. It is interesting that on average, 50 percent of all cancer patients could be cured if the tumor was detected at an early stage. It is well-known that up to 90 percent of cancer patients can be cured, depending on the type of cancer. Taking these facts into account, it becomes clear how important it is to provide in-vitro-diagnostics (IVD) for early cancer screening. Ideally, those screening tests are non- and/or minimally-invasive, cost-effective, fast, and non-laborious; they also detect cancer at a very early stage where it can still be completely cured. In this context, detecting tumor-reactive auto-antibodies in the blood of cancer patients is an attractive approach for developing IVDs for early cancer detection.

In this case, the body's immune system can help by developing a humoral antibody response against parts of the tumor at a very early stage of the disease, during which there are still only few malignant cells. By forming these tumor-specific antibodies, the “foreign signal”, which is still weak, is amplified so that it can be detected in the blood long before clinical diagnosis. Currently and despite intensive research, there is still no clinically approved cancer screening test which is conceptually based on the principle of tumor-specific auto-antibodies. There are three key reasons for this. First, the translation gap: This means that findings from basic research on cancer-relevant auto-antibodies are difficult or impossible to use because "translational" knowledge (knowledge on how to translate scientific results into a product) is missing here. Second, the technology gap: In this case, there is a lack of high-throughput screening technologies and/or technology mergers that lead to the efficient identification and validation of disease-relevant auto-antibody signatures. And third, the cohort/sample gap: Usually, there are no corresponding disease progression cohorts to develop and validate "real" tests for early diagnosis. The aim of the project is to identify and validate auto-antibody signatures from human blood in order to develop an in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) for the early detection of cancer.

Keywords 

  • Cancer
  • In-vitro diagnostics
  • Autoantibodies
  • Early cancer detection