Can proteins and DNA be used together to detect cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports


A panel of proteins found in the blood was both sensitive and specific in men and women in detecting early cancers. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says the numbers may even be better if both DNA and proteins were examined together. 

Nelson: I think it tells you that you can mine proteins in the circulation. One of the things you might think about is that some of the DNA based tests did perform a little bit better when there were protein tests, that they were used together and would it be possible to configure a test where DNA is examined, proteins examined, you'd have a greater hopefully sensitivity to find cancers when they're small. The greater specificity which when you scale it to a large population of mostly healthy people would turn into a greater predictive value.  :30

Nelson notes that it is always a challenge to scale up from detecting cancers you already know exist to finding them among otherwise healthy people. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.