Grace-Rupley Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame
Chemical cytometry for more accurate cancer prognosis
Norman Dovichi’s laboratory provides a molecular basis for prognosis in cancer and precancerous conditions. The hypothesis of the project is that heterogeneity of cell-to-cell expression increases in later stages of progression. The lab’s tool is chemical cytometry, a term the lab has coined for the analysis of single cells using modern analytical tools. For this project, chemical cytometry uses two-dimensional capillary electrophoresis and ultrasensitive laser-induced fluorescence detection to characterize protein expression.
As a model system, the lab uses Barrett’s esophagus, a premalignant condition that is a complication of acid reflux and the only known precursor of esophageal adenocarcinoma, a disease that has increased fourfold in 30 years. About 8,000 new cases are reported in the United States each year, and about 8,000 die from the disease. Dovichi’s lab has worked for nearly 10 years with collaborators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to employ chemical cytometry to improve the accuracy of prognosis of progression from neoplasia in Barrett’s esophagus to esophageal adenocarcinoma. This system serves as a model for the general problem of accurate cancer prognosis.