Altered sugar polymer (glycan) structures are a universal feature of cancer cells that represent a promising, but only marginally used source of markers. With appropriate analytical techniques, global blood plasma/serum (P/S) glycomics show great potential as non-invasive markers for the presence and progression of cancer. Unfortunately, modern analytical methods for quantifying the relative abundance of different glycans in P/S vary widely and focus mostly on N-linked glycans, often to the exclusion of O- and lipid-linked glycans.
Researchers at the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University have developed a method of using P/S glycomics based on glycan linkage analysis that captures glycan features such as α2-6 sialylation, β1-6 branching, and core fucosylation as single analytical signals to evaluate the behavior of P/S glycans in cancer. This approach was applied to over 950 clinical P/S samples from 7 different case control studies across all stages of cancer in which the cancer cases were compared to related benign conditions and healthy controls. The marker for α2-6 sialylation was found to predict both progression and all-cause mortality in lung cancer patients with p-values of <0.01. Further, this method was able to separate current and former evidence of disease cases of bladder cancer from certifiably healthy controls.
This unique approach to analyzing P/S glycomics captures all major classes of P/S glycans to provide a powerful platform for detecting a variety of different types of cancer at varying stages.
• Cancer diagnostics/prognostics
o Lung, bladder, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic, and possibly others
• Creation of unique cancer specific glycan biosignatures
Benefits and Advantages
• Does not require special sample pre-processing
• No biological reagents (no antibodies or enzymes)
• Cost effective
• Captures information from all major classes of P/S glycans, including N-,O- and lipid-linked glycans
• α2−6 sialylation is able to predict lung cancer progression and survival with p-values of <0.01
• All five top-performing glycan nodes were able to predict progression and survival to a more limited extent than α2−6 sialylation
• Uses clinically established instrumentation (gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer)
• Sensitive – works well on limited sample quantity
• The behavior of the nodes is independent of the organ of tumor origin
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