UIC-2002-003 – Quantification of AKT Protein Expression in Breast Cancer Patients

A cancer diagnosis is conventionally confirmed through histological examination of cell or tissue samples removed from a patient. Clinical pathologists need to be able to accurately determine whether such samples are benign or malignant and to classify the aggressiveness of tumor samples deemed to be malignant, because these determinations often form the basis for selecting a suitable course of patient treatment. Histological examination traditionally entails tissue-staining procedures that permit the morphological features of a sample to be readily observed under a light microscope. A pathologist, after examining the stained sample, typically makes a qualitative determination of whether the tumor sample is malignant. It is difficult, however, to ascertain a tumor’s aggressiveness merely through histological examination of the sample. The identification of AKT as a key regulator of cellular survival has significant implications for oncogenesis and drug resistance. Cellular proteins AKT1 and AKT2 are involved in mediating avoidance of apoptosis in tumor cells. In addition, suppression of apoptosis is not the only function that AKT may have in promoting oncogenesis. In some circumstances, AKT can also induce cell cycle progression. The observation that AKT can suppress apoptosis suggests that oncogenes may block adaptive cellular apoptosis by hyperactivating AKT. The invention provides methods for quantifying AKT1 or AKT2 protein expression and activation levels in cells or tissue samples of cancer patients using optical density measurements. In addition, this method can be used for cancer patients undergoing treatment to quantitatively monitor their progress – including observations of tumor metastasis. Nelson Grihalde grihalde@otm.uic.edu 312-996-4129

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