Cancer Diagnostics / Diagnostic tests

Potential new non-invasive colorectal cancer (CRC) test

Potential new non-invasive colorectal cancer (CRC) testOn average, 5-year survival rates for colorectal cancer (CRC) are less than 10% if metastasis occurs – but can reach 90% if detected early enough.  A new non-invasive test has been developed that measures methylation of the SDC2 gene in tissue and blood sera.  The test is able to detect 87% of all stages of CRC cases (sensitivity) without a significant difference between early and advanced stages, whilst correctly identifying 95% of disease-free patients (specificity).

With CRC being the second largest cancer killer in the U.S.A, the report is welcoming.  It is estimated that over 140,000 people in the U.S will be diagnosed with the disease, with over a third of sufferers dying from it this year.  Comparatively, CRC is the fourth most common cancer in the U.K, with over 40,000 cases in 2010.

The research team, composed of scientists from Genomictree Inc. and Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, performed DNA microarray analysis coupled with enriched methylated DNA using tissues from primary tumours and non-tumours from 12 patients with CRC.  A set of genes were found to be highly methylated across all CRC tumours, with SDC2 being known to participate in cell proliferation, cell migration and expressed in colon mesenchymal cells.  The methylation level of SDC2 was found to be higher than that from paired adjacent non-tumour tissue.

By clinically validating the biomarker, the researchers found that tumour samples showed higher levels of methylation than the control samples.  SDC2 methylation positivity ranged from 92.9% to 100% when samples were stratified according to the stage of cancer.

Lead investigator, Dr TaeJeong Oh, commented, “The SDC2 methylation test was able to detect 92% for detection of stage I cancer patients indicating that SDC2 is suitable for early detection of CRC where therapeutic interventions have the greatest likelihood of curing the patient from the disease.”

Dr Sungwhan An, CEO of Genomictree Inc., went on to say, “We are very excited with this result using a small amount of serum DNA from less than 1ml of blood.  I believe a greater volume of blood will further improve the clinical performance of this test.  We are currently preparing another set of clinical validation studies evaluating SDC2 methylation in serum DNA from patients with early adenoma.”



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