Researcher Profile: Jeffrey A. Borgia

Dr. Jeffrey A. Borgia

Jeffrey A. Borgia, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Pathology, and several of his colleagues from Rush University Medical Center have been awarded a research grant from LUNGevity Foundation to identify biomarkers and develop a non-invasive test for the early detection of lung cancer.

Dr. Borgia, who directs the Rush Proteomics and Biomarkers Core Facility, is collaborating with Michael Liptay, MD, head of the Thoracic Surgery Department; Mark Yoder, MD, Assistant Professor of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Department; James Mulshine, MD, Associate Provost for Research; and Brett Mahon, MD, Assistant Professor of Pathology.

Approximately 20 million chest CT scans are performed annually in the United States. Based on these scans, nearly 4 million individuals discover they have pulmonary nodules that may or may not be malignant. Recipients of the grant are working to develop a non-invasive test to help doctors identify the nature of these nodules. A quick and efficient way to classify pulmonary nodules would reduce the number of unnecessary surgeries and help complement the emerging model for lung cancer screening using low-dose CT scans.

“This work could save lives by providing a convenient and low-cost method for detecting lung cancer while it is early enough to be treated effectively,” says Dr. Borgia.

In their studies, Dr. Borgia and his colleagues are utilizing a constellation of serum biomarkers that, when used together, can distinguish lung cancer from benign lung nodules.

Lung cancer tumors release molecules into the body that cause an immune response. Dr. Borgia’s team is profiling and identifying serum proteins that induce the production of circulating antibodies in patients who were diagnosed with lung cancer and in patients who were found to have non-malignant lung nodules.

By comparing the two sets of proteins, the team aims to identify a minimum of 20 candidate biomarkers for lung cancer.

These biomarkers will be tested further in other clinical specimens to identify the optimal test for this urgent clinical need. Once completed, this test will help doctors decide the best treatment for patients who have suspicious nodules, improving the standard of care for lung cancer patients.