POLAR ProteOmics for Lymphoma and Prognostication

Lymphomas are a form of cancer originating from cells of our immune system, called lymphocytes. This type of cancer behaves differently to most other tumors (e.g., breast, lung, or colon cancer) and cannot be treated through surgery. In recent decades, treatment options for lymphomas have significantly improved, including through the use of precision medicine, where, for example, proteins on the cell surface are targeted by antibodies or signals within tumor cells are blocked. However, many lymphoma patients cannot be cured with current treatment strategies, and accurate diagnosis remains challenging even for experts.

In recent decades, lymphoma research has focused on examining genetic changes in tumors, coupled with microscopic analyses of tissue sections. Technologies for measuring proteins in clinical samples have significantly improved in recent years. However, analysis and integration of this data in clinical research and diagnostics remain challenging.

The goal of the project is to develop a platform that can integrate the entire protein profile (proteome) of lymphomas. This integration will improve diagnosis, reveal new treatment targets, and help assess the effectiveness of drugs before administration. The platform aims to enable doctors and researchers to access and utilize the vast amounts of data generated by proteomic measurements for research and diagnosis.

In the future, this platform could be expanded to analyze proteome profiles in other types of cancers and diseases, contributing significantly to the advancement of precision medicine in Switzerland.

This project is made possible by the Uniscientia Foundation

What is a Proteome?

A proteome is the entirety of all proteins present in a cell, tissue, or organism. Proteins are complex molecules that fulfill various biological functions, such as cell structure formation, signal transmission between cells, regulation of metabolic processes, or participation in immune reactions.

The “proteome” represents the protein-building elements of a biological system at a specific moment. It is dynamic and can change under different conditions or at different developmental stages. The analysis of the proteome allows scientists to examine the quantity, structure, function, and interactions of proteins in a biological sample.

In the context of the POLAR project, the integration of the entire proteome refers to collecting and understanding information about proteins in cancer cells and tissues. This can provide crucial insights for diagnosis, treatment, and understanding the underlying biological processes.

What role does the BMIP play in the project?

POLAR aims to establish a workflow and analysis pipeline/structure for the Biomedical Informatics Platform The LOOP Zurich BMIP capable of integrating proteomic data for clinical reporting and research. The focus on clinical application aims to utilize proteomic data for clinical diagnostics while providing a use case for the BMIP with the specific outcome of the POLAR data pool.

What relevance does the project have for patients and research?

The project will generate a very large proteomic dataset of lymphoma samples, which will be made publicly accessible under controlled access and serve as a unique resource for the global lymphoma research community. Additionally, the project lays the foundation for a nationwide lymphoma registry involving the University Hospital Basel and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona.

Furthermore, it addresses a long-term medical need in cancer diagnostics: the precise alignment of diagnosis and individual therapies based on molecular profiles. This enables personalized, precision oncological lymphoma treatment. POLAR will drive forward new technological developments that go beyond current capabilities (e.g., novel tests, data science/AI; optimal clinical implementation). The success of this project will motivate and facilitate further studies.

The consortium