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The ‘GlioPhos’ project

Glioblastoma is a highly heterogeneous tumour and patients with this disease have a poor prognosis. Partly because the tumour infiltrates the surrounding brain tissue, surgical removal of the tumour is often incomplete, so that it is usually necessary to give these patients an adjuvant treatment after surgery. In general, these treatments are not effective.

Physiological changes in cells and tissues are driven by changes in protein levels and post-translational modifications. These crucial events are not detected by gene expression profiling and mutational profiling. Therefore, phosphoproteomic profiling is a better representation of cellular phenotypes and consequently a better representation of the “real life” situation.

The GlioPhos project aimed at developing a diagnostic and therapeutic strategy for glioblastoma multiforme based on phosphopeptide profiles. The GlioPhos project, funded by EUROSTARS program nr. 10688, was a collaborative effort between Pepscope (Utrecht, Netherlands), Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, Netherlands) and PubGene AS (Oslo, Norway). The main goal of the project was the development of a validated diagnostic workflow for resected tumour tissues from glioblastoma patients. The partners are in dialogs on how to best take the project product to the market. The product will combine two unique technologies:

  1. The mass spectrometry platform to determine phosphor-proteomic profiles from Pepscope and the Erasmus Medical Center
  2. The Coremine bioinformatic analysis from PubGene

The combined workflow, including both the mass spectrometry and the bioinformatics analysis, will be offered as a complete service named ‘GlioPhos’. This powerful platform will bring broad insight into phosphopeptide profiles of patient tumour material because of deregulation of specific kinases. The GlioPhos report will include information on deregulated kinase pathways, active kinases, and possible treatment options. All-in-all this will provide information to support diagnostic and therapeutic decisions that can be made for individual patients as a tumour phenotype-based alternative to non-targeted chemotherapies, which cause severe side-effects.

Furthermore, identification of cellular targets of kinase inhibitors in cancers and off-target effects of kinase inhibitors are some of the additional main exciting applications from the GlioPhos workflow. The combined capabilities of this consortium will also provide the opportunity to develop such a proteomics service for other cancer types, in addition to glioblastoma. Gliophos will therefore contribute to better individualizing cancer treatments that will benefit health care in the longer term.

About the authours

Jimita Toraskar, PhD in Medicine, works as a Scientist at PubGene AS. She plays a key role in identifying and evaluating evidence resulting in actionable insights for patients. Jimita participates in evaluation of AI-assisted tools. Along with a strong background in pharmaceutical sciences, Jimita is a firm believer in the principles of user-centric design and constant learning. 

Dag Are Hov, MSc in Molecular Physiology, is a Product Manager in PubGene AS. He has a central position in coordinating the development of PubGene’s product portfolio and managing ongoing projects. Dag Are’s background in biology and applied bioinformatics and research in molecular physiology combines well with problem solving, defining needs, and qualifying content for both researchers as well as patients.