Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota researchers who have been teamed up since 2011 in a high-profile effort at tapping genomics to assess how well cancer treatments are working in individual patients have now produced a patentable system.
The research team of Dr. Scott Kaufmann
, leader of Mayo’s Anticancer Drug Action Laboratory, and Daniel Harki
, a U of M assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and director of the Harki Lab
, in January saw their patent application for a method of “assessing enzyme-nucleic acid complexes” published
by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with Mayo and the U of M named as the assignees.
The publication marks significant progress in the pair’s research, which six years ago was awarded a $434,000 grant as part of the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics
—a unique collaborative venture among Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota, and State of Minnesota established to elevate Minnesota’s worldwide standing in bioscience research.
Kaufmann and Harki’s technology uses genetic analysis to rapidly and simply determine if a cancer treatment is working, which could not only help assure that patients are on the right track in their fight with the disease, but also could be used to screen new potential cancer drugs.
Building on previous research, their work aims to develop new ways to monitor how a particular therapy is working for a patient by recognizing the effect of the treatment at a genetic level, focusing on topoisomerases. Topoisomerases are ubiquitous enzymes that control DNA supercoiling and entanglements. They are essential during transcription and replication, and topoisomerase inhibitors are among the most effective and most commonly used anticancer and antibacterial drugs.
In an article published last year in the journal Nuclear Acid Research
, Kaufmann and Harki claim to have produced a first-of-its-kind antibody capable of assessing topoisomerases to determine if DNA stabilization has taken place in tumor cells after anticancer drugs have been administered.
Calling it “a paradigm for a new class of reagent to monitor widely used anticancer drugs,” its ultimate success could mean greatly improved treatments for breast, ovarian, lung and colon cancer.
In the article, the pair write that after multiple unsuccessful attempts at producing workable antibody in rabbits, they succeeded at generating a mouse antibody. “To our knowledge this is the first antibody to selectively detect these types of covalent protein-DNA adducts,” they said, meaning one that is capable of assessing changes in topoisomerase tumor enzymes.
One important aspect of the antibody, they claimed, is its ability to detect changes in topoisomerase at very minute levels.