December 28, 2022

3 impactful Mayo Clinic cancer research studies of 2022

By Susan Murphy

In 2022, Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists interrogated the genome, exome, proteome, epigenome, exposome, transcriptome and more with remarkable depth to shed new light on the hidden biological signatures of cancer. Using artificial intelligence and a wealth of multi-omics data, the pioneering teams of researchers worked side by side to pave a path for potential therapies tailored to each patient's unique tumor characteristics.

Here's a look at three (of many) influential cancer research studies of 2022 by scientists and physicians in Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine and Mayo Clinic's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

(Genome: complete set of DNA; exome: coding portions of genes; proteome: set of proteins in an organism; epigenome: regulation of gene expression; exposome: cumulative environmental exposures and the associated inherent biological responses to those exposures; transcriptome: set of gene readouts in a cell)

1. Designing Personalized Vaccines to Combat Cancer

Mayo Clinic researchers are working to develop personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines that can potentially target each person's distinctive tumor characteristics. The new approach, built on advances in genomic research and data analytics, holds transformative potential to boost the power of the immune system to identify and attack cancer cells.

"For some patients with cancer, the vaccine may possibly induce their tumors to shrink and provide long-term, durable anti-tumor immunity," says Keith Knutson, Ph.D., co-leader of the Grohne Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida and co-creator of Mayo Clinic's Neoantigen Personalized Vaccine Program.

"We're looking at a massive number of changes in a tumor tissue," says Yan Asmann, Ph.D., a bioinformatician at Mayo Clinic in Florida and co-creator of Mayo Clinic's Neoantigen Personalized Vaccine Program. "It's a very complex biological process for neoantigen generation, but it's one that we're working to automate using computational algorithms, including machine learning models."  Read more.

2. Mayo Clinic discovery in bone marrow cancer points to potential drug targets

New research from Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine finds that patients with ASXL1-mutant chronic myelomonocytic leukemia — an uncommon type of cancer of the bone marrow — have distinctive epigenetic changes that can activate harmful genes and cause the cancer to grow faster. The ASXL1 genetic mutation also can transform the disease into the more aggressive acute myeloid leukemia.The study, published in Nature Communications, helps to clarify a potential therapeutic strategy and adds to the knowledge of ASXL1 gene expression.

"The epigenome in patients with these ASXL1 gene mutations is changed in a way that allows the cancer cells to switch on genes that are detrimental to the patients," says Moritz Binder M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist and scientist, and the lead author of the study. "These epigenetic changes don't affect the DNA blueprint itself," Dr. Binder explains. "It affects how to the blueprint is read — which pages to read and which pages not to read." Read more.

3. Mayo Clinic researchers study rare genetic condition to tackle colorectal cancer

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine are studying a rare genetic condition called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) looking for potential ways to prevent colorectal cancer in the general population at an earlier more treatable stage. The researchers’ findings are published in GUT.

“The biological pathway that leads to the development of polyps and colon cancer in patients with FAP is the same biological pathway as patients in the general population,” says Niloy Jewel Samadder, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and lead author of the study. “Our trial looked at opportunities to use chemoprevention agents in patients with FAP to inhibit the development of precancerous polyps in the small bowel and colorectum.” Read more.

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Tags: Artificial Intelligence, Cancer, cancer, center for individualized medicine, Genetics, genomic medicine, genomic medicine, Multi-omics, personalized medicine, Precision Medicine, Research

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