Chromatography Finds a Potential Biomarker for Ovarian Cancer
Dec 21 2019 Read 1199 Times
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer amongst females in the UK. There are around 20 new cases diagnosed every day - around 7500 new cases per year. With around 11 ovarian cancer deaths per day in the UK, ovarian cancer accounted for about 5% of all cancer deaths in females in the UK. But, more than a third of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive over 10 years.
Like all types of cancer, the earlier the diagnosis the better the prognosis. Currently the diagnosis of ovarian cancer can be a protracted process for a patient involving scans, a blood test, biopsy and laparoscopy. Could there be a better way? Well a group of scientists from Japan certainly hope so. In a paper published online in the journal Oncology Letters they set out the details of a study into the potential of using biomarkers to identify malignant ovarian tumours and chromatography played a significant role.
Cancer of the ovaries
The ovaries are small organs found low in the stomach area. They are connected to the womb and play a key role in the reproductive cycle. It is the ovaries that store the eggs used for reproduction. Ovary cancer mainly affects women who have been through the menopause with the highest incidence in women aged over 75. Almost 60% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage - hence the need for improved detection methods.
Ovarian cancer symptoms can be difficult to recognise - especially in its earlier stages. The symptoms can often be misconstrued as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). The most common symptoms include feeling bloated with a swollen tummy, discomfort in the pelvic area and a need to wee more often. Ovarian cancer is when cells in the ovaries grow rapidly and uncontrollably producing a tumour. It is not known why the cells suddenly start growing uncontrollably - but it is thought that age and genetics play a role.
Chromatography spots the biomarkers
C-Mannosyl tryptophan (CMW) is a glycosylated amino acid that can be used as a biomarker for renal dysfunction. The team behind the paper referenced above investigated if there were changes in blood CMW levels in patients with ovarian cancer versus healthy controls. They analysed 49 plasma samplers from patients with ovarian cancer and 7 from healthy individuals using liquid chromatography. The use of chromatography to analyse samples of amino acids and proteins is discussed in the article, Increasing Peak Capacity for the Gradient Analysis of Protein Digests and other Complex Samples.
The team found that plasma CMW differentiates malignant ovarian cancer from borderline or benign ovarian tumors with high accuracy. This could be good news for the future of ovarian cancer diagnosis. Biomarkers are becoming more prevalent in many different diseases - and chromatography plays a large part in analysing biomarkers.
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