Editor's note: Science Scan is a quick round-up of recently published,biotechnology-related research.

Matritech's Test Predicted 100 Percent Of Bladder Cancers MonthsBefore Invasive Stage

A simple urine test scored six out of six in foretelling which early-stage bladder-cancer patients, after surgical treatment, would go on todevelop invasive disease.

The diagnostic test detects tell-tale nuclear matrix proteins (NMP),which show up in many tumors, notably of bladder, colon, cervix andprostate. (See BioWorld Today, June 28, 1995, p. 3.)

Ninety subjects underwent transurethral resection for transitional cellcarcinoma (TCC) of the bladder, and submitted a urine sample tendays later. Urologists compared the NMP readings with cystoscopy _the current follow-up procedure _ performed three to six monthslater. It explores the bladder interior with a lighted endoscopic tube.

The NMP urine results correctly identified all six patients whosetumors had become invasive, as revealed by cystoscopy months later.

Edward Messing, chairman of urology at Rochester UniversityMedical Center in New York state, reported this clinical trial data onMarch 30, 1996, in Boston, at the First International BladderSymposium, co-sponsored by Harvard Medical School.

His poster presentation carried the heading: "NMP22 prospectiveclinical trial: follow-up of TCC subjects with no evidence ofdisease."

NMP22 is a preparation of nuclear matrix proteins, licensedexclusively to Matritech Inc. of Newton, Mass. by the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology, whose scientists discovered, and holdpatents to, the cancer diagnostics. (See BioWorld Today, March 1,1994, p. 1.)

The results that Messing reported, he said, "indicate that NMP22 is apowerful adjunct in the management of bladder cancer. Patients withhigh NMP22 values are at significant risk for exhibiting diseasewithin three to six months. Our clinical trial indicates," he added,"that a negative NMP22 value ten days after surgery means withnear-90-percent certainty that my patient will not have a malignancyat his or her three-month follow-up visit. In that case, I can decide tospare my patient the expense, the discomfort, the uncertainty and therisk of infection associated with cystoscopy."

That procedure runs around $300, the urologist said, whereas"Matritech estimates the NMP22 test kit will be reimbursed forbetween $40 and $50 per test."

AntiCancer's Now-Patented `MetaMouse' Mimics Human Tumors InOrgans, Not Just Under Skin

A mouse born naked into the world is among human's best friendswhen it comes to studying cancer.

Besides its skin, denuded of fur, the hapless rodent has no thymusgland, which means it lacks immune defenses against foreignantigens. This makes the nude mouse an ideal laboratory model foraccepting xenografts of live human tumor cells, whose growth andbehavior oncologists can then follow.

Such single cells, in suspension, are usually injected under theanimal's skin, where the seeded tumor remains visible and accessibleas it expands. As stand-ins for human cancers, these mouse-bornemalignancies are universally used worldwide, but they have theirlimitations.

That is, the human tumors they purport to mimic start out as localgrowths. But few of these are situated under the skin of patients; solidcancers by definition are identified by the organs they initially attack_ whether colon, breast, lung or whatever.

As a rule, a malignancy becomes lethal only after it metastasizes,often to distant target-organ tissues. Tumors implantedsubcutaneously in nude mice don't have this propensity for travel,which limits their validity as true surrogates for the human condition.

Into this breach comes a recently patented system for making theanimal model more closely conform to natural metastasis.

Its creators at AntiCancer Inc., in San Diego, named the resultingmultipurpose rodent "MetaMouse." Instead of carrying itstransplanted human tumors skin-deep, MetaMouse grows them fromthe word `go' on and in the internal organs of primary growth that aretheir normal habitat in Homo sapiens.

A news item in the current Journal of the National Cancer Institute(JNCI) dated April 3, 1996, describes how it's done:

"To turn a nude mouse into a MetaMouse with lung cancer, amicrosurgeon extracts the left lung, appends [human] tumor tissuewith sutures finer than a hair shaft, and replaces the lung inside thechest wall. He then closes the chest and reinflates the lung. Now themouse is ready to serve medical science."

This "first commercial mouse model of metastasis" nettedAntiCancer U.S. Patent No. 5,491,284, dated Feb. 13, 1996, thejournal reported.

Robert Hoffman, president of AntiCancer and professor of surgery atthe University of California, in San Diego, told JNCI: "Currently, 19companies, including one of the top five independent U.S.biotechnology companies, and universities are conducting studiesusing MetaMouse." n

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.