Earlier Cancer Detection?
Reported July 30, 2008
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — The key to successfully treating cancer is to catch the disease in its earliest stages. Seattle researchers are tracking down a new way to do just that.
They’ve found markers in cancerous tumors known as microRNAs they believe might help doctors discover the disease while it’s more likely to respond to treatment.
MicroRNAs are tiny regulatory molecules known to play a role in a wide range of normal cell processes. But in the case of cancer, the molecules malfunction. These researchers, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, discovered cancer-related microRNAs don’t just hide in cancer cells, but are actually released into the bloodstream. That means a test for their early detection is quite possible.
The technique could be superior to looking for protein biomarkers of cancer, note the investigators, because the technology for finding microRNAs is more advanced than the technology for identifying specific proteins.
“This research shows that microRNAs, which weren’t previously thought of as markers of cancer in the blood, are a worthwhile class of molecules to study for the purpose of early cancer detection,” study author Muneesh Tewari, M.D., Ph.D., was quoted as saying.
The researchers identified the microRNAs by studying blood from mice and men with advanced prostate cancers, comparing it with blood from healthy controls. Results showed the microRNAs found in the blood could correctly identify which individuals were suffering from the cancer.
SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online July 28, 2008.