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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 Dec 10;1072(2-3):193-214.

Diagnostic utility of oncogenes and their products in human cancer.

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Applied bioTechnology, Inc., Cambridge, MA 02142.


The first clear cut association of an oncogene with a specific cancer is the c-abl translocation in chronic myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia; it has been observed in 90% of CML cases examined. This is the major contributing factor to its being the target of the first oncogene-based FDA-approved diagnostic test. Although the role of the abl translocation in the tumorigenic process is not yet understood, it is clear that somehow it must be causally related to the disease, and thus is an ideal target for a diagnostic test. The association of this oncogene with a specific cancer is the model on which all others may be based in the future. Second generation tests could easily include PCR on mRNA, and/or in situ hybridization, both of which could be performed using blood samples. Both methods would provide a faster means of testing a large number of cells, however, the methodologies must be improved through automation and computer-aided image analysis, respectively, in order to become useful routine tests. Both neu and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) appear to have a close correlation between overexpression of the gene product and outcome of disease in breast cancer; valuable information for prognosis of the disease. And again, although the actual mechanism of action of these molecules and how this relates to the tumorigenic process is not yet known, it is believed from the very nature of the molecules that they must in some way contribute to the progression of the disease. In both cases, the protein products are overexpressed in tissue, and in the case of Neu, it appears as through at least some of the patients have a Neu-related protein in their serum. These molecules present relatively easy targets for the development of diagnostic/prognostic assays, as antibodies are easily made and can be incorporated into a variety of assay formats. Current assays available, an ELISA for Neu and a radio-ligand binding assay for EGFR, are highly sensitive, reproducible and relatively easy to perform. Only the ELISA is commercially available, however, and hence allows for easy comparison between laboratories. An abvious step towards the routine measurement of EGFR then is the development of a comparable commercially available test. An improvement for both types of assay would be the incorporation of an internal control to gauge the cellular component of the tissue samples that are tested. The outcome of the applications of myc and ras to cancer diagnostics is not so easily predictable, with a couple of exceptions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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