Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals of Cleveland report identifying a new DNA gene marker, vimentin, that was shown in a recent study to be three times more effective in detecting colon cancer than the standard doctors office test that detects blood in the stool. The study, appearing in the August 3, 2005 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was conducted by a team also comprised of researchers with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and from the Massachusetts biotechnology company, EXACT Sciences Corporation.
Through use of this single vimentin marker, the researchers were able to detect colon cancer in 46 percent of patients studied, compared with 15 percent for the standard fecal occult blood test. The vimentin marker was also very effective in detecting colon cancer in the early stages of development, when the disease is most curable.
The researchers targeted a gene called vimentin that usually does not play a role in normal colon cells, but serves as a marker for the development of colorectal cancer. The analysis, which was performed using vimentin alone and no other markers in the panel, relied on DNA extracted from stool samples of the participating patients. The analysis detected cancers in 43 of 94 patients (46 percent), and detected early stages of cancer in 26 out of 60 cases, or 43 percent of the time.
George Stamatis | EurekAlert!
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