Organ-homing proteins to detect and treat Metastatic Cancer

Categories: “Diagnostics” “Cancer Therapeutics” “Research Tools

Reference #: 2005-044

OTC Contact: Ruchika Nijhara Ph.D., MBA, CLP (Directory Information | Send a Message)


The invention describes novel biological molecules for the prognosis, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Specifically, the technology identifies novel organ-homing proteins used by cancer cells for their seeding into organs of metastasis. Primary tumors tend to metastasize to specific distant “target” organs. For example, prostate cancer often metastasize to the bone, breast cancer metastasize to the liver etc. The physiologic basis of such targeting remains unknown but it is well known that once the cancer has metastasized an individual’s chances of survival typically decreases. Thus, there is a great need to develop biomarkers that can detect subclinical metastasis or detect the risk of metastasis, treat such cancers and/or monitor disease progression or treatment. The present invention identifies a set of liver targeting domains that could be used as prognostic and diagnostic markers. Further, the invention describes antibodies against such liver targeting domains for therapeutic intervention.


  • As prognostic markers to detect subclinical metastasis or detect the risk of metastasis
  • As diagnostic markers to detect metastasis, or monitor disease progression or treatment
  • As markers to determine survival rates, such as for example, five and ten year survival rates in an individual.
  • As therapeutic molecules to treat cancer.


  • Can identify the localization site of metastasis
  • Potential for improving the prognosis of these metastatic-associated cancers.
  • Detect the early onset of cancer and preempt the progression of metastasis,
  • Simple method for screening cancer- Body fluids and/or tissue samples could be used.
  • Unlike current treatment options, the technology offers a reliable method to cure metastatic cancer.
  • Novel and specific targets
  • Offers therapeutic antibodies against novel and specific targets (i.e. organ-homing peptides specific to a cancer) to eradicate metastasis.
  • Cells with the potential to metastasize could be identified concurrently with diagnosis of primary tumor.

Stage of Development

Georgetown researchers have identified 3 specific homing genes for colon cancer that metastasizes to the liver using tissue samples from individuals with: 1) colon cancer metastasis to the liver; 2) primary colon cancers that had metastasized at the time of diagnosis; 3) invasive colon cancers without known metastasis; and all were compared with samples from normal colon tissues and samples from individuals with breast cancer due to the relatively low propensity of breast cancer for initial metastasis to the liver.
Also, several other cancers, including breast and prostate, have also been examined. Currently, the identified organ-homing biomolecules specific for such cancers are being characterized.

Relevant Publications

Manuscript under preparation

Patent Status

Patent application pending.