Identifying novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets is critical to combating a complex, heterogeneous disease such as cancer. Now, investigators at Johns Hopkins have just identified a protein involved in cell proliferation and the development of new blood vessels that could serve as a marker for the early detection of colorectal cancers. The researchers found that the enzyme beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase-V (beta-1,4-GalT-V), was increased in human colorectal cancer tumor cells compared with normal tissue. They also observed an increase in this protein’s activity and in its product lactosylceramide, which leads to an increase in new cells and blood vessels that cancers can use to spread.
These novel findings demonstrate that lactosylceramide could be added to a growing list of biomarkers such as NMT1, APC, and TP53 in blood tests for colorectal or potentially other cancers to increase their success at early detection of disease.
Colorectal cancer affects more than 1.4 million people worldwide, causes over 690,000 deaths, and is third in the prevalence of all cancer types. While screening colonoscopies usually don’t begin until a person turns 50, one of the most common screening tests used is a stool test for colorectal cancer that is based on DNA technology. Outcomes from such tests must be accompanied by a colonoscopy. “So, there is a great need for reliable biomarkers for early-stage diagnosis of colorectal cancer.”
By – Assistant Professor – Ms. Alfia Sagheer
Department – Biotechnology
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