TSU is trying to predict cancer by the metabolome profile of a patient

TSU scientists and their colleagues from the Siberian State Medical University and Leiden University Medical Center (Netherlands) are exploring new methods of non-invasive diagnosis of bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma).

Scientists investigate the products of human metabolism, metabolites. The set of metabolites, the metabolome, is a reflection of the individual characteristics (phenotype) of the body, and therefore an important source of information for predicting clinical complications of various diseases, in particular parasitic infection. The use of modern analytical methods, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), allows assessing even the smallest changes in the metabolome phenotype.

- Modern knowledge of the metabolic characteristics of infections caused by parasitic helminths is very fragmented and we have even less information about helminth-induced cancer - said Daria Kokova, an employee of the TSU Laboratory for Clinical Metabolomics. - At the same time, there is strong evidence that various helminths have different effects on the host organism and its metabolome.

During the first year of the project, scientists have investigated patients suffering from opisthorchiasis and healthy volunteers. The researchers worked with a variety of biological materials, but preference was given to the samples that can be fenced in a non-invasive way. In particular, a simple method was developed for the analysis of fecal material (one of the main models in parasitology) that allows the identification of more than 60 metabolites.

The scientists were able to identify 11 of the total number of metabolites that could explain interactions between bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) and opisthorchiasis caused by helminths, such as for example Siberian trematode (Opisthorchis felineus). Now, with the participation of SSMU some patients are being recruited to confirm the results and search for metabolic patterns characteristic of cancer caused by helminth infection. It is planned to investigate about 350 people with cholangiocarcinoma.

- The project has long-term prospects: we are planning to create the first Siberian centre for metabolic phenotyping, the purpose of which will be the integrated assessment of the health of people living in the region, and their risks, - says Oleg Mayboroda, the project manager, head of the Laboratory for Clinical Metabolomics.

The project is a part of the initiatives of the international Tomsk Opisthorchiasis Consortium (TOPIC). It is designed for two years, implemented with support from the TSU Academic D.I. Mendeleev Fund Programme, and should be completed in 2016. Articles in the journals European Journal of Cancer Supplements, International Journal for Parasitology, and Journal of Proteome Research have been published on the project.  The scientists are now also preparing a number of additional publications.