OCT 29, 2014 07:30 AM PDT

Antibody-based Proteomics: Fast-Tracking Molecular Diagnostics and Target Discovery in Oncology

  • Senior Lecturer, School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, Co-Director, Cancer Biology & Therapeutics Laboratory, University of Dublin
      I obtained my PhD from Trinity College Dublin in 2000. Subsequently, I conducted my postdoctoral training in cancer biology at Columbia University, New York and at the University of Glasgow under the supervision of Prof Nick La Thangue, FRSE. Afterwards, I returned to Ireland as a HRB Career Development Fellow and, in 2009, was employed in a permanent capacity as a Research Fellow in Cancer Biology at UCD within the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and appointed as Senior Lecturer in Cancer Biology within SBBS in 2013. At present, I lead a team of 3 postdoctoral fellows and 3 PhD students (with 4 previous PhD students graduated) funded by the European Commission, Science Foundation Ireland, The Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology. My group has extensive experience in the discovery of molecular determinants of cancer progression (via transcriptomic/proteomic profiling and functional genomic screening) and their clinical translation through the development and automated analysis of tissue microarrays, in addition to their functional analysis using in vitro models and xenograft studies in nude mice. As such, we have established an integrated workflow for the molecular and clinical analysis of central tumourigenic processes that we are currently applying to a number of different tumour types. Based on this work I was elected to the council of the Irish Association for Cancer Research in 2011 and was awarded the 9th St Luke's Young Investigator award in 2012 and an EACR Young Scientist Award in 2009. Additionally, I have been awarded a number of prestigious fellowships, notably from the Health Research Board, the European Molecular Biology Organisation and the Human Frontiers Science Programme and have spent additional time as a Visiting Fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School and the Netherlands Cancer Institute where I joined the group of Prof Rene Bernards. I have published 33 articles to date in Nature Cell Biology, Nature Reviews Cancer, Oncogene, EMBO Reports, Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research among others.


    The effective implementation of personalised cancer therapeutic regimens depends on the successful identification and translation of informative biomarkers to aid clinical decision-making. Antibody-based proteomics occupies a pivotal space in the cancer biomarker discovery and validation pipeline, facilitating the high-throughput evaluation of candidate markers. Although the clinical utility of these emerging technologies remains to be established, the traditional use of antibodies as affinity reagents in clinical diagnostic and predictive assays suggests that the rapid translation of such approaches is an achievable goal. Furthermore, in combination with, or as alternatives to, genomic and transcriptomic methods for patient stratification, antibody-based proteomics approaches offer the promise of additional insight into cancer disease states. Here, the current status of antibody-based proteomics will be covered, as will its contribution to the development of new assays that are crucial for the realisation of individualised cancer therapy. Moreover, the utility of the digital pathology, particularly pertaining to automated assessment of tissue-derived biomarker expression, will also be described.

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