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Researchers Diagnose Cancer in Ancient King


A team of German and Russian investigators have used proteomic technologies to determine that prostate cancer found in a Scythian king who ruled 2,700 years ago in southern Siberia —the oldest known diagnosis of the disease — is morphologically identical to recent cases.

In a study published in the Dec. 17 edition of the International Journal of Cancer, the researchers say the methods they used are new for the study of extracellular matrix proteins extracted from recent and ancient macerated bone samples. Their technique, they add, “is a precondition for the detection of tumor markers [such as prostate-specific antigens] in macerated bones.”

They say the goal of their work was to gather data on ancient disease “from the dawn of civilization … because the knowledge of the nature, etiology, and epidemiology of ancient disease might provide insights into … future health problems.”

“There is no reliable information at the microscopic or proteomic levels on the nature, occurrence, and mode of metastases of ancient tumors, which would be useful for the understanding of the history and evolution of tumorous diseases,” the researchers report in their study. “However, such investigations are interesting because certain types of cancer that these days are estimated to be characteristic of our own times and frequently described as being due to our Western civilization are also found in antiquity.”

The work is built upon research done by Tyede Schmidt-Schultz and Michael Schultz from the University of Göttengen in Germany that appeared in the January 2004 American Journal of Physical Anthropology and the August 2005 issue of Biological Chemistry. In those papers, the researchers describe methods for extracting, solubilizing, and identifying growth factors in archeological bone.

Schmidt-Schultz and Schultz also were part of the team that worked on the IJC study. Schmidt-Schultz oversaw the proteomics work of that study.

Tony Fong

Proteomics Notes

Proteome Sciences has draft license proposals for its isobaric tandem mass tags technology and is finalizing an exclusive license agreement. Proteome Sciences received the US patent for the tag technology last November.

NextGen Sciences and Paragon Bioservices forged an alliance to co-market their genomics and proteomics services and to expand their fee-for-service offerings in biomarker discovery and monitoring, functional assay development, protein production, and proteomics.
Thermo Fisher Scientific bought La-Pha-Pack, a company that makes chromatography consumables. Germany-based La-Pha-Pack has revenues of about $25 million and sells liquid chromatography filters and vials.


68 percent

Despite a 22 percent revenue increase for the fourth quarter of 2007, MDS profits fell by 68 percent due to the falling US dollar.

Funded grants

$295,544/FY 2007
MALDI TOF/TOF Mass Spectrometer System for Proteomics
Grantee: James Bruce, Washington State University
Began: June 1, 2006; Ends: May 31, 2008
James Bruce received $295,544 to buy a MALDI mass spectrometer with MS/MS capabilities for the WSU Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Core Facility that will enable it to offer MS/MS analysis of MALDI-generated ions. The spectrometer will be used for NIH-funded projects studying cell-cell interactions in testis and primordial follicle development, phosphoproteome profiling, cellular motility, and immune response.

$132,300/FY 2007
The effect of congenital renal obstruction on the urinary proteome in infants
Grantee: Richard Lee, Children's Hospital Boston
Began: July 1, 2007; Ends: June 30, 2012
Richard Lee received $132,300 to study congenital renal obstruction, which occurs in two to five percent of pregnancies in the US. He hypothesizes that renal obstruction affects which proteins are secreted into urine, and that the protein profile will change with the severity and course of the obstruction. Lee plans to identify new markers and determine their diagnostic or prognostic power through quantitative proteomics in infants.

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