Michael Joseph Campa
Associate Professor in Radiology
There is longstanding evidence that invasive lung cancer is the end result of a multi-step process in which progressive molecular changes herald and accompany cytomorphologic changes. Our knowledge of these molecular events and the specific markers associated with the evolution from initiation to invasion is only partial. A number of specific biomarkers involved in oncogene activation or inactivation of tumor suppressor genes have been identified, but no single marker to date has been shown to have sufficient sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value to stratify all individuals. More likely, panels of markers will require development to best characterize the molecular profiles of susceptible individuals.
Our laboratory is engaged in studies designed to identify novel biomarkers of cancer. We have identified several serum proteins that, when taken together, may signify the presence of cancer. In addition, some of these biomarkers are associated with disease outcome. Hence, the have the potential to predict the course of the disease and help determine the most effective therapeutic strategy.
A different, but related, area of interest of our laboratory is the development of novel antibody-based ligands against cancer-specific molecules for use as non-invasive diagnostic imaging agents. The primary method that we use for identifying these novel ligands is by screening phage-displayed antibody libraries. We constructed the libraries using mRNA isolated from peripheral blood lymphocytes from a llama that had been immunized with various proteins and cell lines. We chose the llama as a source of antibody because they possess a particular type of IgG consisting of only heavy chain. By cloning only the antigen-binding portion of these heavy chain-only antibodies into the library, we were able to decrease the size of the resulting binding moiety by a factor of 10 compared to full-length heavy- and light-chain antibodies. Due to their small size, these so-called nanobodies should be able to penetrate tumors much more quickly than conventional IgG-based antibodies.
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