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Discovery of Functional Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers for Thyroid Cancer

Jan Geleibter PhD, Stim Schantz MD, Edward Shin MD

The increasing incidence of thyroid cancer compounds the clinical challenges facing the medical community and patients.  While fine needle aspiration biopsy remains the gold standard for the analysis of nodules, the rate of “indeterminate” biopsies hampers our diagnostic abilities.  Further, the lack of prognostic biomarkers remains hurdle in our desire to match aggressiveness of treatment with the aggressiveness of the tumor. The paucity of therapeutic treatments for metastatic, radioresistant thyroid cancer is another deficiency facing clinicians and patients.

Our research program utilizes state of the art technology to address the above medical concerns regarding thyroid cancer.  The goal of our project is to employ complete molecular (transcriptome) analysis of benign and malignant (PTC and FTC) nodules, as well as metastatic lesions, for the discovery of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and the effective translation of these tools to the clinic. In addition to biomarker discovery, these molecular analyses will also provide information on the molecular pathogenesis of thyroid cancer and identify potential therapeutic targets.  Further, the alignment and matching of biomarkers with molecular pathogenesis will allow us to identify subgroups of patients who have the same diagnosis, but have different clinical outcomes, and provide more personalized and directed cancer treatments.  Thus, “decision making” diagnostics can be coupled with targeted treatment and better patient care.

The “deliverables” of this project include:

  • Validated diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for PTC & FTC
  • Identification of biomarkers for PTC for FNAB testing
  • Validated prognostic molecular signatures for metastatic lesions
  • Molecular therapeutic targets for local and metastatic PTC and FTC
  • Data to be useful in planning treatment for individual patients

We expect to apply for NIH funding to further validate, in multicenter trails, the molecular diagnostic and prognostic signatures that we will identify in this study. 

Concurrent with this project are additional projects that residents are and will participate in and will be used for Academy and AHNS grant proposals:

  • Loss of connexin expression as a biomarker for follicular thyroid cancer
  • Role of MMPs in PTC

Integration of data for ALOX5, uPAR, uPA and MMPs into one grant proposal for Metastatic Determinants for PTC


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