Introduction: Biomarkers are commonly used to stratify cancer patients and guide targeted therapies, but most biomarkers are of a genomic nature. Discrepancies between the genome and proteome and the high rates of drug resistance indicate that proteomic analyses may provide additional critically important information. Here we present immuno-Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization (iMALDI), the combination of immuno-affinity enrichment of peptides followed by direct MALDI-mass spectrometry analysis. iMALDI is a highly sensitive, targeted protein-quantitation technique with the potential to measure clinically relevant signaling-pathway proteins using minimal sample amounts, thus improving upon existing methodologies. Areas covered: We provide a brief overview of the current state of biomarker analysis technologies for modern cancer treatment. We also show the advantages of iMALDI for translating potential new biomarkers into the clinic, factors to consider for iMALDI assay development, and the utility of iMALDI for the quantitation of cell-signaling proteins. Expert commentary: We see targeted mass spectrometry approaches such as iMALDI as an important part of improving patient responses to targeted therapies by providing highly sensitive, accurate, precise, and specific measurements of signaling-pathway proteins, both in tumor cells and in cells from the tumor microenvironment. iMALDI results can be integrated with other -omics data to aid in tumor-targeting therapies and immuno-oncology.
- cancer signaling pathways
- post-translational modification
- protein quantification