Spanish Researchers Find New Biomarkers To Diagnose Metastatic Colon Cancer

A group of scientists from the Biosanitary Research Institute (ibs.Granada) have shown that the presence in blood of RNA of certain genes related by the angiogenesis process (essential phenomenon in the growth and metastatic expansion of a tumor) behave as excellent biomarkers to detect colon cancer.

They are researchers led by Dr. José Carlos Prados Salazar and Dr. Consolación Melguizo Alonso (Technology Applied to Oncology and Gene Therapy) and Encarnación González Flores (Personalized Oncology).

This multidisciplinary team from ibs.Granada, belonging to the Department of Human Anatomy and Embryology of the UGR and the Medical Oncology Service of the Virgen de las Nieves University Hospital, has managed to detect these genes in the blood through digital PCR (dPCR), a highly sensitive technology that would allow obtaining rapid results in the detection and prognosis of colon cancer.

One of the main findings of the study is that some of the genes analyzed can “predict the response of patients to treatment”, which could “open the door to its use as a new marker to design a more personalized medicine”, as reported by the Board on Monday.

Colon cancer should be considered a public health problem since it is the third most frequent tumor in the world and the second cause of death from cancer. In Spain and considering both sexes, colon cancer is the most common cancer, currently surpassing breast and lung cancer.

Despite the advances in its treatment in recent years and the improvement in its early diagnosis, a very significant number of patients present metastasis at the time of diagnosis or develop it throughout the course of the disease. Therefore, early determination of the disease at this stage, as well as the development of strategies to determine its prognosis and the efficacy of the applied therapy, is a priority field in cancer research.

This research is the continuation of the search for new biomarkers for metastatic colon cancer using methodologies as novel as metabolomics , a powerful tool that allows detecting the presence of low molecular weight molecules in patients.

The application of this technology has made it possible to obtain a “fingerprint” for the detection of metastatic colon cancer through five compounds of three classes of molecules (sphingolipids, endocannabinoids and glycerophospholipids) present in the blood of patients . In these analyzes, the participation of the Center of Excellence in Research on Innovative Medicines in Andalusia (Medina Foundation) together with the ibs.Granada has been essential.

The results obtained that provide relevant knowledge on possible markers with application in the detection and prognosis of metastatic colon cancer have been published in the prestigious journals’ Journal Clinical Medical ‘and’ Scientific Report ‘and have been reflected in the doctoral thesis’ Identification of new biomarkers for metastatic colon cancer: genomic and metabolomic analysis’ recently advocated by Dr. Encarnación González Flores.