Exploring drug effects on gastric cancer cell lines

Biomax partnered with academic and industrial partners in the CANCERMOTISYS project, an international collaboration targeting stomach cancer therapies from 2009 to 2012. Supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMWF) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the CANCERMOTISYS project used an interdisciplinary approach to find biomarkers for patient groups responsive to targeted gastric cancer therapies. In particular, the project was able to identify potential response predictors for therapy with the drug cetuximab in gastric cancer cell lines and has provided valuable knowledge base for the current SYS-Stomach project.

Gastric cancer is estimated to be the fourth most common cancer and second leading cause of death from cancer worldwide. Treatment options for gastric cancer patients include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Although there have been considerable improvements recently, therapy options are still limited and treatment at advanced stages requires new therapies to be developed.

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an ideal therapeutic target. It is an overexpressed protein in tumor cells of the gastric carcinoma. Treatments with different therapeutic antibodies provide strategies for the inhibition of EGFR. An important goal of the CANCERMOTISYS project is to find efficient biomarkers to identify patient groups that are responsive to this kind of therapy. In particular, the medical aim is to identify such biomarkers for therapy with the drug cetuximab in gastric cancer cell lines and thus improve patient outcomes with more targeted personalized medicine.

Biomax used the BioXM™ Knowledge Management Environment for the project’s data and knowledge management and the Viscovery® Data Mining Suite to perform explorative data mining within the project. The BioXM knowledge platform allowed the project to integrate gene expression analysis data, computational procedures, biological experiment data and image data to investigate the regulation of tumor cell motility for gastric cancer cell lines at cellular, sub-cellular and molecular levels. In contrast to similar projects which rely on omics data only, the CANCERMOTISYS project assessed cellular motility and invasiveness phenotypes and used them to generate biomarkers and computational models, respectively.

Specifically, the project studied the roles of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), EGFR signaling pathways and other related pathways, and a monoclonal antibody against EGFR, cetuximab. The BioXM platform allowed CANCERMOTISYS researchers to save the experimental data and results, analysis workflows and gastric-cancer-specific signaling pathways into a valuable semantic network.

This knowledge base of the insight gained in the CANCERMOTISYS project continues to be valuable in gastric cancer research today. Based on the success of the CANCERMOTISYS project, the BMBF now funds the SYS-Stomach project to continue delving deeper into the data to find further biomarkers for patient response to cetruximab and other targeted gastric cancer therapies, including trastuzumab.