Imagine if treatments for disease could be based not on patients’ diagnoses, but rather on the characteristics of their tissues. That’s exactly what researchers at Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine  (CAPMM) are trying to accomplish.
Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin III, codirectors of CAPMM, have launched a clinical trial in partnership with researchers at Inova Health System and the Fairfax Northern Virginia Hematology Oncology Research Program to treat patients with late-stage colorectal cancer.
The three-year trial  will accommodate up to 50 men and women who have late-stage colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. Striking more than 150,000 men and women each year in the United States, colorectal cancer is the nation’s third most commonly diagnosed cancer.
“Traditionally, all colon cancers have been lumped together and given similar treatments. The novelty about this is that we can, in a very minimally invasive way, start to treat the metastatic tumor based on its unique protein makeup. If we’re going to be successful in treating the metastatic disease, which is what kills people, then we need to focus on using therapies targeted toward the individuality of a patient’s disease state. This clinical trial is the first step toward doing that,” says oncologist Kirstin Edmiston, coprincipal investigator and medical director of cancer services at Inova.
“This is the first trial that uses a direct proteomic approach that maps the drug target activation networks that are in use in each patient’s tumor,” says Petricoin. “Just technologically being able to do this in a real clinical trial is a first.”