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N-glycolylneuraminic acid serum biomarker levels are elevated in breast cancer patients at all stages of disease.

By Lucy K Shewell, Christopher J. Day, Jamie R Kutasovic, Jodie L Abrahams, Jing Wang, Jessica Poole, Colleen Niland, Kaltin Ferguson, Jodi M Saunus, Sunil R Lakhani, Mark von Itzstein, James C. Paton, Adrienne W Paton, Michael Paul Jennings

Posted 21 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.21.449179

N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) is an aberrant glycosylation that has been proposed as a cancer biomarker. Using a Neu5Gc-specific lectin called SubB2M in a Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR)-based assay, we previously reported elevated Neu5Gc biomarkers in serum from ovarian cancer patients. Here we report an optimized SubB2M SPR-based assay to enhance specificity with a non-sialic acid binding version of SubB2M, SubBA12, to control for any non-specific binding to SubB2M, which improved discrimination of cancer-free controls from early-stage ovarian cancer. Using this new assay, sera from breast cancer cases were analysed, revealing significantly elevated levels of Neu5Gc biomarkers at all stages of breast cancer. We show that Neu5Gc serum biomarker levels can discriminate breast cancer patients from cancer-free individuals with high sensitivity and specificity. Analysis of serum collected prospectively, post-diagnosis, from breast cancer patients at high risk for disease recurrence showed a trend for a decrease in Neu5Gc levels immediately following treatment for those in remission. Neu5Gc serum biomarkers are a promising new tool for early detection and disease monitoring for breast cancer that may complement current imaging- and biopsy-based approaches.

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