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- Mass Spectrometry as a Diagnostic and a Cancer Biomarker Discovery Tool


It is true that all classical cancer biomarkers have major shortcomings that preclude their applications for population screening and early diagnosis. The highly promising data generated by SELFI-TOF prompted many to suggest that this technique could be used clinically before the end of this year. However, as indicated above, numerous questions need to be answered before the technology is accepted. There should also be no shortcuts in the validation process of this technology by independent laboratories and agencies. Otherwise, we are running the risk of harming patients who would be misdiagnosed and subjected to unnecessary, invasive, and probably dangerous confirmatory procedures.

As with other medical advances, the ultimate judge of this technology will be time. I sincerely wish that this method will not follow the route of a similar effort originated in the 1980s that suggested cancer diagnosis based on nuclear magnetic resonance profiling of serum samples (6567).

Received, February 27, 2004

Published, MCP Papers in Press, February 28, 2004, DOI 10.1074/mcp.R400007-MCP200

1 The abbreviations used are: GC/MS, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry; MALDI, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization; ESI, electrospray ionization; MS/MS, tandem mass spectrometry; LC/MS, liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry; SELDI-TOF, surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight; PSA, prostate-specific antigen; ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; PSMA, prostate-specific membrane antigen. 

* The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact. 

{ddagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed: Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X5, Canada. Tel.: 416-586-8443; Fax: 416-586-8628; E-mail:

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