Second generation diagnostics: iMALDI-based assays for protein activity to improve patient selection for therapeutic Akt inhibitors in cancer treatment

Principal Investigator: Gerald Batist
Theme : Health
Competition : Genome Canada competition - Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP)
Status : Completed
Start : Apr. 1, 2016
End: Mar. 31, 2018
Budget : $1,900,000.00

Cancer, research is discovering, is not the monolith it was once thought to be. In fact, most cancer types have many sub-types, each with its distinct molecular signature. Information can also be gleaned from the expression and functionality of cancer-related proteins. And in some instances this information determines whether or not a drug therapy will be effective. 


AstraZeneca has developed a new drug, AZD5363, which stops tumour cell growth by inhibiting a protein called Akt. Now it wants to be able to target the drug to those who will respond best to it by monitoring Akt protein activity in prospective patients. New technology developed by Dr. Christoph Borchers, called immunoMALDI (iMALDI), uses -antibodies and mass spectrometry to monitor for multiple forms of the Akt protein in a single assay, or procedure. This project will validate this assay and lead to the development of a diagnostic test that will be commercialized by Victoria-based MRM Proteomics Inc. The test will be used in clinics to screen patients with colorectal cancer, as well as other tumour types, to determine who will respond best to AZD5363 once it is approved.


The ability to determine patients’ responsiveness to AZD5363 will help ensure patients receive the treatment that is most likely to be effective based on their cancer-related proteins, and avoid other, less effective, costly and possibly toxic treatments. The optimized treatment will enhance patients’ quality of life, save lives and produce healthcare savings of around $260 million/year. The ability to use proteomics to identify those most likely to respond to particular treatments will also help Canada attract millions of dollars in biopharma investment to further develop protein-based biomarkers. 


Co-project leader:

Christoph Borchers

University of Victoria, McGill University - Jewish General Hospital, Segal Cancer Centre


Co-project leader - User:

Paul Elvin


Gaia Schiavon AstraZeneca