Can Chromatography Detect Bowel Cancer Earlier?
Dec 28 2016 Comments 0
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK — and over the past decade, bowel cancer incidence rates have increased by 5% in the UK. In 2014, there were over 41,000 new cases of bowel cancer — over 100 every day, with almost 16,000 deaths or 44 per day due to bowel cancer.
The good news is that bowel cancer is one of the cancers that are screened for in the UK — with women and men between the ages of 60 and 74 sent a screening kit every two years. In recent years, a new screening programme involving the examination of the lower bowel and back passage at the age of 55 by a bowel scope has begun.
Don’t stop searching
Even though there is already a screening test for bowel — or colorectal — cancer doesn’t stop medical researchers looking for different or even better diagnostic indicators. Now a team from two universities in the US has identified abnormalities in fat metabolism that created a molecular fingerprint that could be linked to colorectal cancer in mice and humans.
The team used normal and colon cancer tissue samples from polyps taken from humans and mice and compared them using ion-mobility mass spectrometry coupled with ultraperformance liquid chromatography. The use of chromatography to identify biomarkers is discussed in the article, Biopharmaceutical peptide mapping; addressing the challenges with simple fast, and reproducible workflows.
It is in the pooh too
One of the advantages of the biomarkers identified by the team are that they are from polyps — small growths — that are not usually cancerous. But in a step further, the team decided to investigate to see whether the molecular fingerprint of cancer could be found in the faeces of the mice.
In a press release from Washington State University, one of the lead researchers Herbert Hill said:
“The feces was not exactly the same as the tissue samples, but it had a lot of similarities to the tissue. We found the lipids and fatty acids were changing — and there were also changes in the amino acids.”
Early detection — stage zero in fact
One of the fats that changed are known as lysophospholipids — a type of lipid that is known to be important in the development of cancer and are tied to colorectal cancer in its early stages. “The benefit of early detection is that we can catch cancer before it metastasizes to other parts of the body,” said Michael Williams, a graduate student on the project. “Our results represent the zero stage of cancer, the polyp stage – as early as colon cancer can be detected.”
As with all cancers — the earlier the diagnosis the better the prognosis. With the changes being identified in the stool, it could lead to a better non-invasive early detection system for bowel cancer. To reduce your chance of getting colorectal cancer, doctors recommend a healthy diet with limits on the amount of processed and red meat you eat.
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