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Title: Discovery and development of liquid biomarkers for ovarian and lung cancer
Author: Chudasama, Dimple
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 5666
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2018
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Survival rates in cancers have improved vastly over the years. However, some survival rates remain extremely low, as is the case for ovarian and lung cancer. The lack of robust and reliable biomarkers is strongly reflected in the absence of pre-screening programs, and as such, most patients in these cancer types are diagnosed only in advanced stages, leaving few treatment options. Moreover, relapse and resistance to therapies adds to the complexities of treating these diseases, even in the era of targeted drug development. Research has shown the presence of cancer material, in the form of circulating cancer cells (CTCs) and genomic material in the blood of patients, opening the possibility of 'liquid biopsies'. Liquid biopsies allow sampling of the disease to provide phenotypic and genomic data on the cancer in real-time and on a routine basis. Moreover, they overcome obstacles currently faced by conventional tissue biopsies. In this work we evaluate the use of a novel CTC imaging flow-cytometry platform, and report the ability to characterise and quantify these cells in blood samples. Moreover, we report significantly higher levels of CTCs in cancer patients compared to controls, and found them to be associated with a poorer prognosis. In particular, in lung cancer we observe these findings even in the early stages, suggesting a potential diagnostic use for this assay. We detect a similar trend in when analysing the ctDNA and suggest the possibility of using this technique with a prognostic value in the advanced setting. We also report on the analysis of existing microarray data by use of unique gene regulatory networks to identify biomarkers of interest. RAD51AP1 was identified by this process. Clinical validation revealed an over-expression of this gene in both tissue and blood of ovarian and lung cancers. Moreover, the gene over-expression was associated with a poor overall survival. Functional analysis in vitro revealed silencing RAD51AP1 suppressed tumour growth, in addition, various tumorigenic proteins were down-regulated, whilst apoptotic and immune genes were up-regulated. These results suggest a role for RAD51AP1 as a potential therapeutic target. In this study, we also demonstrate the ability to further exploit tumour genomic material in the blood by means of RNAseq, cancer panels, and CNI scoring to identify novel markers, that play an important role in disease genesis and evolution. RNAseq analysis identified XIST as a gene up-regulated in the blood and tissue of lung cancers. The ovarian cancer panels revealed 2 unique gene signatures in the ovarian cancer patients. With the CNI analyses also highlighting chromosomal aberrations from plasma analysis of cancer patients. Collectively, the use of all these techniques and exploitation of available blood based biomarkers could see significant improvements to survival rates in these, currently devastating diseases.
Supervisor: Karteris, E. ; Sisu, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Liquid biopsy ; Circulating tumour cells ; Lung cancer ; Ovarian cancer ; Unique gene signatures