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Glycans in body fluids - potential for disease diagnostics

Final Report Summary - GLYFDIS (Glycans in Body Fluids - Potential for Disease Diagnostics)

Developing effective tools to screen for cancer is an important endeavour and there is much research taking place to develop these tools. Cancer is a significant burden on individuals, families and society. The economic impact of cancer is substantial. In 2002, the overall cost of cancer, as published by the National Cancer Institute, was 172 billion dollars. This does not account for the psychological toll that it takes on individuals and families. GLYFDIS project's objective was to develop methods for earlier diagnostic and effective disease screening that will lead to better treatment outcomes. Early detection and diagnosis of cancer is based on the observation that treatment is more effective when the disease is detected earlier in its natural history, prior to the development of symptoms, then in an advanced stage.

GLYFDIS' mission was to develop novel integrated diagnostic tools for diagnosis and monitoring of cancerous states based on glycome and peptidome analysis of blood samples. Optimised diagnosis of cancer significantly decreases cancer-associated morbidity and mortality. It relieves economical and mental burden from patients, their families and the entire society. Accurate monitoring of cancerous states following diagnosis can significantly contribute to prognosis determination and on-line evaluation of therapeutic regimens.

A bioinformatics pipeline was developed to analyse the data from the different methodologies, seeking to uncover a combination of markers that together differentiate healthy and diseased samples. The pipeline was based on the Support vector machines (SVM) algorithm, coupled with a hybrid algorithm for choosing informative features developed specifically for GLYFDIS (combining the Cross-correlation / single-number rating (CC / SNR) method to reduce the features set until it can be explored exhaustively). Several approaches were tested for integrating the results from different methodologies, including:
(1) naïve merging, in which all the results from all the methodologies are introduced together to the machine learning pipeline;
(2) feature merging, in which the informative features are identified for each data source separately, and these features are analysed with the Support vector machine (SVM) pipeline; and
(3) proper meta-analysis, in which an SVM model is created for each methodology separately, and the predictions of these models are than used to train a new SVM model.

Estimated deaths worldwide in 2007 for stomach cancer were 511 549 for males (2nd causing death for cancers in male) and 288 681 for female. Estimated deaths worldwide in 2007 for pancreatic cancer were 137 206 for male and 122 185 for female. It is clear that there is an urgent need to identify novel tumour markers and protocols for the improvement of personal care treatment for patients and population. It is also clear that the dream of one biomarker good for cancer monitoring is impractical and an array of biomarkers and imaging technologies should be the goal to obtain for accurate and specific diagnostics and monitoring of specific cancerous state. Therefore, GLYFDIS individual and integrated successful results on stomach and pancreas cancer monitoring are expected to eventually have a clear impact on the health of the European population and associated countries, by enforcing the concept of personalised cancer care through providing novel individual and integrated features to determine cancerous state for stomach and pancreas cancer patients and possibly be to be further extrapolated for other cancers.

GLYFDIS results advanced basic-clinical European scientific excellence. The project induced results and intellectual property are expected to be efficiently implemented to the clinic. Further developed commercially exploitable products will promote European industrial production. Successful clinical and commercial implementation of GLYFDIS results will have multiple medical and social benefits to European countries, as it will promote the cure of stomach and pancreas cancer patients and reduce their suffer. This also bears effects on social and economical aspects, as hospitalisation time and costs will be possibly reduced and the economical loss induced by the inability of patients to work will be reduced.