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Carboxypeptidase E Splice Variant Predicts Metastases

Quantifying mRNA predicts metastasis or risk of recurrence in hepatocellular and other cancers

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- An alternative splicing variant of the carboxypeptidase E gene (CPE-ΔN) is elevated in pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (PHEO/PGL) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines, according to a study published online Feb. 1 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Terence K. Lee, Ph.D., from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues analyzed 99 HCC patients and quantified the amount of CPE-ΔN mRNA found in primary tumors and normal surrounding tissue to determine the ratio of tumor to normal tissue. CPE-ΔN mRNA copy numbers were analyzed in 14 patients with resected primary PHEO/PGL.

The investigators found that in 90 percent of HCC patients, a two-fold increase in CPE-ΔN mRNA in primary tumor compared to surrounding normal tissue predicted that the cancer was likely to return or metastasize in two years. This prediction was independent of cancer stage. Resected PHEO/PGLs with high copy numbers (greater than one million) of CPE-ΔN mRNA predicted metastasis or recurrence of disease compared to low copy numbers.

"[CPE-ΔN mRNA's] assay provides a major breakthrough in biomarker discovery with invaluable utility in cancer prognosis for predicting future metastasis and recurrence in patients with HCC and PHEO/PGL, and potentially for other types of cancer as well. Moreover, CPE-ΔN could also be a useful target for therapeutic intervention," the authors write.

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