Endometrial Cancer Analysis Finds Proteins Linked to Tumor Progression
At this year’s Immunology meeting in Washington, DC, we presented results from a new study of metastatic progression in endometrial cancer. Scientists Jean-Noel Billaud, PhD, Stuart Tugendreich, PhD, and Debra Toburen used Biomedical Genomics Workbench and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) to reanalyze previously published data, finding new elements that may be associated with cancer progression.
The poster reporting this project is “Identification of potential immune targets in controlling Endometrioid Endometrial Carcinoma metastatic progression.” Endometrioid endometrial carcinoma (EEC) is the most common subtype of endometrial adenocarcinoma, which affects hundreds of thousands of women globally. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 60,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer this year. EEC is estrogen-dependent, with risk factors including menopause, obesity, and diabetes, among others.
Through this project, our scientists aimed to learn more about how tumors evolve in patients with EEC, which typically presents as a low-grade tumor confined to the uterus (known as stage 1) but in as many as 20% of cases has already metastasized. Late-stage diagnosis has devastating implications: women with localized cancer have a stunning five-year survival rate of 95%, while women whose cancer has metastasized have just a 16% survival rate after five years.
The team used a publicly available data set of RNA sequencing data generated from tissues collected during surgery from three women, all with stage 1 EEC. The idea was simple: could different analysis tools glean new information from the previously collected data? “We hoped to add some different parameters and contribute to this important subject,” Billaud says, noting that all results in the poster will require further validation.
The raw data was run through Biomedical Genomics Workbench for mapping, quantification, and differential expression analysis with no bioinformatics expertise required. Results were then sent directly to IPA for interpretation. This approach led to the identification of three proteins related to immune function that appear to be involved in cell invasion, metastasis, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition — all important elements of tumor progression. The focus on this class of proteins was intentional, Billaud says, because they are likely to be targetable with therapies and could have the most immediate benefit for cancer patients.