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A New Blood Test to Colon cancer: Changes in gut bacteria may lead to a new blood test

New research has observed that an imbalance in gut bacteria known as dysbiosis promotes colorectal cancer development. This finding is aiding researchers’ efforts to develop an innovative blood test for diagnosing colon cancer.

Often, colorectal cancer shows no symptoms in its primary stages, making it difficult to diagnose early. This prevents patients from getting the appropriate treatment before the tumors grow and spread to other body parts. There is also the sporadic colorectal cancer that develops in people who have no risk factors for cancer.

It is precisely for such reasons that scientists continue to look for ways that can help understand what increases the risk of colorectal cancer and how to identify it early. They have been able to develop a blood test that can pick up the gene expression changes associated with dysbiosis and tumor development.

According to the study;

  • The blood test has been accurate in a trial conducted in patients with sporadic colorectal cancer.
  • This follows research conducted before, which suggested that gut microbiota could be responsible for the onset of cancer. This prompted scientists to find further insights into the possible mechanisms that cause this to happen.
  • During the test, stools from cancer patients and sporadic colorectal cancer patients were transplanted into mice, and later, their colons were analyzed to identify any changes. Weeks after the transplants, the team observed that the mice that received transplants from cancer patients not only presented dysbiosis, but they also developed precancerous lesions and have a very high number of hypermethylated genes.
  • The test was used to assess the level of hypermethylation of three types of genes in the bacterial genome. They used patients scheduled for colonoscopies but had no symptoms. The blood test assessed the value of the cumulative methylation index.

The results of the validation study helped to conclude that a patient’s methylation index could be relied on to predict the likelihood of developing sporadic colorectal disease. The research team hopes to conduct more trials with a higher number of participants to make sure the test can work efficiently on a large scale.

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