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New blood tests promise simple, cost-effective diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers
Date:9/20/2009

Berlin, Germany: Promising results from two new blood tests that can aid in the early identification of patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers will be presented at Europe's largest cancer congress, ECCO 15 ESMO 34 [1], in Berlin today (Monday September 21). The tests will make GI cancer detection simpler, cost-effective, and more acceptable to patients than current methods, the researchers say.

In the first study, Dr Joost Louwagie, from the company OncoMethylome Sciences, headquartered in Lige, Belgium, will present data on the way in which tumour markers for colorectal cancer were selected, the analytical performance of the test and the first results from a multi-centre feasibility study. "This test has potential to provide a better balance of performance, cost-effectiveness and patient compliance than other options currently available for colorectal cancer screening," he says.

The scientists collected blood before surgery from 193 patients known to have colorectal cancer, as well as from 688 controls undergoing colonoscopy for cancer screening. DNA was extracted from the blood plasma and tested for the presence of DNA methylation of specific genes. DNA methylation is involved in the regulation of protein expression, and methylation or silencing of key genes has been linked to the initiation and progression of tumours. Based on studies conducted in colorectal tissues, methylated genes that were capable of discriminating accurately between cancerous and normal tissues were chosen. The scientists then evaluated the best-performing methylated genes in blood samples, with the ultimate goal of providing a sensitive, specific and patient-friendly option for colorectal cancer screening.

"We optimised the methods of DNA extraction and methylation detection so that we could detect low levels of methylated genes in people with colorectal cancer," says Dr Louwagie, "and we were able to find a high frequency of two newly reported methyla
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary@mrcommunication.org
33-066-893-0650
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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