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MU researchers believe discovery could lead to testing that displaces colonoscopies
Date:2/16/2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. Nobody enjoys colonoscopies, including mice. University of Missouri researchers are excited about the potential of using genetic biomarkers to predict colon cancer caused by inflammation. A new method developed at the MU Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (RADIL) could eventually lead to a method that might eliminate colonoscopies altogether.

While working to develop novel therapeutics for colon cancer, Craig Franklin, associate professor of veterinary pathobiology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine; Aaron Ericsson, post-doctoral researcher at MU; Mike Lewis, assistant professor of veterinary medicine and surgery; Matt Myles, assistant professor of veterinary pathobiology and Lillian Maggio-Price, professor of comparative medicine at the University of Washington, found biomarkers in mouse feces that predicted inflammation-associated colon cancer. This is the same type of cancer associated with some common inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease.

The team found that the bacterium that leads to inflammation-associated colon cancer in mice first results in inflammation that can be detected by screening feces for messenger RNA of genes. Franklin believes this discovery could lead to tests for similar genes that are present in humans with early inflammation associated colon cancer.

The study was published recently in Neoplasia, which also featured the study on the journal's cover.

"The assumption was that the gene expression couldn't be detected in fecal matter because RNA breaks down very rapidly. Historically, this was something that a lot of scientists, including us, hadn't considered," Franklin said. "But technology has evolved, and we now have the means of preserving RNA much better than we did 15 years ago."

As a laboratory animal veterinarian, Franklin believes this discovery also could decrease the number of animals used in research.

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Contact: Steven Adams
AdamsST@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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