Detection of ALK autoantibodies in patients with ALK-related malignancies incorporating the development of a commercial test for the detection of circulating ALK antibodies in patient serum

University of Cambridge

Dr. Suzanne Turner


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Paediatric lymphoma and neuroblastoma

Research Interest

Suzanne D. Turner, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in tumour biology and pathology at the University of Cambridge. She directs a research group investigating mechanisms of ALK-induced malignancies and has contributed significantly to our understanding of the carcinogenic process having created one of the first murine models of ALK-induced tumour formation. In particular, mechanisms relating to the role of the T cell receptor in ALK-induced lymphomagenesis are an interest of the Turner group.

Nina Prokoph

Research student



Research Interest

Ms. Nina Prokoph received her M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology from the University of Ulm with training at BoehringerIngelheim, the Genome Institute of Singapore, the University of Queensland, and AstraZeneca. She continued to work at AstraZeneca under the scheme of the Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Graduate Programme, first at the Personalized Healthcare and Biomarkers Department in Sweden, and subsequently at the Tumor Genetics Group in Shanghai, China. She will bring her experience in assay development for clinical settings to Dr. Turner’s lab at the University of Cambridge to help investigate the clinical value of ALK autoantibodies in NSCLC and ALK-related malignancies.

Research description

The titre of anti-ALK-antibody in patient’s serum is a potent and independent prognostic marker. Within the European clinical trial for patients with ALK-positive ALCL of the European Intergroup on Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (EICNHL) therapy intensity is going to be stratified according to MDD and ALK-antibody titres. These parameters are measured in four laboratories in the EU (Cambridge, U.K.; Giessen, Germany; Padua, Italy; Paris/Toulouse, France). The laboratories have established standard opoerating procedures/protocols (SOPs) for ALK antibody-titre measurement and inter-laboratory quality control during the last two years.

However, the assay currently in use in the lab is labour-intensive and difficult to standardise amongst multiple centres, particularly those who do not have prior experience. In addition, our preliminary studies indicate that ALK autoantivodies exist in NSCLC and the relevance of these to clinical parameters will be assessed. It is therefore our goal to: Develop a commercial assay that is simple to use in any lab, is reproducible and cost effective; investigate other ALK- induced malignancies for the presence of ALK autoantibodies, specifically NSCLC; determine the prognostic significance of circulating ALK autoantibodies in NSCLC patients.

Expected Results:
Commercial assay able to detect ALK antibody titres in patient serum for ALCL prognosis; use of this test for diagnostics of ALK-related malignancies; determination of the presence of ALK autoantibodies in NSCLC patients and its clinical relevance

Planned secondment(s):
Year 1: Cambridge Life Sciences (PO#9) – development of a kit to detect circulating ALK autoantibodies – 3 months;
Year 2: Institute Gustave-Roussy, Paris (B#11) – technique development – 1 month

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