Clinical Mass Spectrometry: Imaging Tissue Metabolites and Lipids for Cancer Diagnosis

The important hallmark feature of tumorigenesis is the global shift in metabolism imparted by the malfunctioning of oncogenes. This phenomenon suggests that in situ analyses of the cancerous cell/tissue metabolites and lipids could reveal potential biomarkers or molecular targets to detect, diagnose, and prognosticate cancer. Thus, the ability to easily record the metabolic signatures of biopsy specimens (within minutes of biopsy) would eventually develop a rapid, quantitative and accurate pathology method for early detection and diagnosis of clinically relevant diseases including cancer. [endif]--Recently, an innovative form of an ambient ionization mass spectrometry (highly sensitive analytical approach) called desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI-MS) has been developed to provide the microscopic examination of cancer metabolisms in tissues. It appears from some preliminary studies that imaging the spatial distribution of different phospholipids and small metabolites in different organs have significance in disease diagnosis including the provision of information on tumor margins to guide doctors during surgical removal of the corresponding tumor. The major objectives of this project are as follows:

Objective 1: Diagnosis of cancer by the classification (normal vs indolent cancer vs aggressive cancer) of biopsy specimens through desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometric imaging (DESI-MSI).

Objective 2: Understanding cancer biochemistry using the distribution of lipids and metabolites in biopsy samples recorded by DESI-MSI

This project will be accomplished by a strong interdisciplinary team consisting of chemists, doctors/surgeons, pathologists, and statisticians.