Early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC) can improve average patient survival significantly, but many show resistance to the invasive nature of traditional colonoscopies, and fecal occult blood testing lacks in specificity. Scientists and clinicians alike have long sought another option.

Writing today in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, investigators from Daejeon, Korea-based Genomictree and the Yonsei University College of Medicine propose a new approach—a blood-based biomarker test they say can detect 87% of all stages of CRC cases while correctly identifying 95% of disease-free patients.

The Genomictree-Yonsei University team are targeting the gene SDC2, which encodes the protein syndecan-2, found in colon mesenchymal cells. The researchers found a significantly higher methylation level in a target region of SDC2 in tumor tissue compared with paired normal samples. They then set out to validate this association, examining tumor-normal samples from a cohort of 133 CRC patients.

“The SDC2 methylation test was about to detect 92% for detection of stage I cancer patients indicating that SDC2 is suitable for early detection of CRC,” Genomictree’s TaeJeong Oh, Ph.D., said.

Dr. Oh and colleagues suggest that their SDC2 methylation test could potentially be used as an alternative to or in conjunction with colonoscopy. It might also be useful to monitor progression and treatment, they add.

“We are very excited with this result using a small amount of serum DNA from less than 1 mL of blood,” Dr. Oh explained. “We are currently preparing another set of clinical validation studies evaluating SDC2 methylation in serum DNA from patients with early adenoma.”

“Genome-wide identification and validation of a novel methylation biomarker SDC2 for blood-based detection of colorectal cancer” was published June 7 in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.

Previous articleA Big Deal’s Winners and Losers
Next articleDrug Target Research Center Planned for UMass Amherst