EPIC working groups

The Molecular Biomarkers & Reproducibility Working Group

Over the past decades, cancer research has used biochemical markers with the aim of better defining exposure, improving early detection, and refining susceptibility, to better understand the etiology of the disease, and to improve its treatment and survival.

The large and diverse collection of the EPIC biobank, and the optimal long-term storage of its biological specimens (liquid nitrogen), allows the measurements of pre-diagnostic biomarkers of exposure, recovery, and prediction (from serum, plasma, and red blood cells), and provides the opportunity to study genetic susceptibility (by extracting DNA from buffy coats) to perform studies at the forefront of research. The long follow-up of the EPIC cohort is key for the identification of potential markers of early detection.

The aim of the Molecular Biomarkers & Reproducibility Working Group is to gather molecular epidemiologists and laboratory scientists to discuss about development and implementation of new biomarkers in the context of large-scale epidemiological studies, using cutting edge technologies.

As in EPIC a second blood samples was collected some years later from a sub-set of the same participants, the working group has established a programme of research to measure selected biomarkers in blood samples on these repeated samples. As of early 2014, the biomarkers under investigation are sex hormones, insulin-like growth factors, B vitamins, vitamin D, thyroid hormones and metabolic profile assessed by targeted mass spectroscopy.


Selected publications

  1. A metabolomic study of biomarkers of meat and fish intake. Cheung W, Keski-Rahkonen P, Assi N, Ferrari P, Freisling H, Rinaldi S, Slimani N, Zamora-Ros R, Rundle M, Frost G, Gibbons H, Carr E, Brennan L, Cross AJ, Pala V, Panico S, Sacerdote C, Palli D, Tumino R, Kühn T, Kaaks R, Boeing H, Floegel A, Mancini F, Boutron-Ruault MC, Baglietto L, Trichopoulou A, Naska A, Orfanos P, Scalbert A.Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Mar;105(3):600-608. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.146639. Epub 2017 Jan 25.Al-Delaimy WK et al. Reliability of biomarkers of iron status, blood lipids, oxidative stress, vitamin D, C-reactive protein and fructosamine in two Dutch cohorts. Biomarkers. 2006 Jul-Aug;11(4):370-82. PMID: 16908443

  2. Differential Isotope Labeling of 38 Dietary Polyphenols and Their Quantification in Urine by Liquid Chromatography Electrospray Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Achaintre D, Buleté A, Cren-Olivé C, Li L, Rinaldi S, Scalbert A. Anal Chem. 2016 Mar 1;88(5):2637-44. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b03609. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

  3. Reliability of Serum Metabolites over a Two-Year Period: A Targeted Metabolomic Approach in Fasting and Non-Fasting Samples from EPIC. Carayol M, Licaj I, Achaintre D, Sacerdote C, Vineis P, Key TJ, Onland Moret NC, Scalbert A, Rinaldi S, Ferrari P. PLoS One. 2015 Aug 14;10(8):e0135437. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135437. eCollection 2015.

Contact details/Working Group leaders

Sabina Rinaldi, PhD
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC/WHO)
150 cours Albert Thomas, 69008 Lyon, France


Timothy Key, DPhil
Cancer Epidemiology Unit
University of Oxford
Oxford OX3 7LF
United Kingdom