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Researchers develop new, more-sensitive assay for detecting DNA methylation in colon cancer
Date:8/16/2009

tion, the DNA-coated beads could be hybridized with fluorescent probes specific to the state of methylation, sorted and analyzed using flow cytometry. The researchers say that this method has enabled the accurate detection of a single copy of methylated vimentin sequence in a mixture and improved the technical sensitivity for detecting methylated vimentin exon1 by at least 62 fold relative to standard methylation-specific PCR.

Using this novel method of digitally detecting methylated DNA, the researchers demonstrated that the test could be used to detect 59 percent of colon cancers in the blood, a 4-fold improvement over CEA, a serum marker commonly used to follow colon cancer patients for recurrence of disease. Additionally, the new method could detect 41 percent of colon cancers in the stool, as well as half of pre-cancerous polyps. The study was led by Bert Vogelstein of John's Hopkins University and Sanford Markowitz, M.D., Ph.D., the Markowitz-Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and an oncologist at the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. This year 150,000 individuals will develop the disease and 50,000 will die from it. Researchers say that deaths from colon cancer are completely preventable when the disease is detected in its early stages, before it has spread beyond the colon yet many individuals do not get screened by colonoscopy.

Although colonoscopy is the most sensitive screening test available, it is time consuming, expensive and uncomfortable for the patient. Dr. Markowitz hopes that a simple blood test will be an additional tool to encourage screening and prevent the disease.

"Methyl-BEAMing provides a new method of screening for colon cancer, and hopefully will reach many of the individuals who are currently not willing or not able to participat
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Contact: Christina DeAngelis
christinadeangelis@case.edu
216-368-3635
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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