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Advance in using biopsy samples in understanding environmental causes of cancer
Date:9/9/2013

ture without spoiling. By some estimates, more than 1 billion such FFPE samples are archived around the world, containing a wealth of information that scientists have begun to use in various kinds of research.

Yun explained that scientists who study human exposure to potential cancer-causing substances in the environment long have dreamed of using FFPE samples to look for the tell-tale signs of such exposure. Those biomarkers are "DNA adducts," pieces of DNA where a carcinogenic substance has latched on. The bonding may mean the start of cancer.

"But the only available way of processing those samples to detect DNA adducts had serious drawbacks," said Yun. "It required the use of harsh conditions that caused the DNA to decompose, and the technique had serious drawbacks in identifying the kind of adduct and determining how much was present. Our experimental breakthrough solves those problems and enables broader use of FFPE samples in understanding the role of environmental exposures in cancer risk."

Turesky and Yun, who conducted this research at the New York State Department of Health and are currently with the University of Minnesota, used the approach to detect DNA adducts involving a carcinogen called aristolochic acid in biopsy samples from patients from the Balkans and Taiwan with upper urinary tract cancer. Found naturally in certain plants of the genus Aristolochia sp., aristolochic acid is present in certain traditional Chinese herbal medicines that have been the subject of health warnings, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies in other countries have banned importation of Aristolochia herbs. Aristolochic acid is also the causal agent of Balkan endemic nephropathy, a devastating environmental disease recently shown to be caused by the ingestion of bread, a major component of the
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
317-262-5907 (Indianapolis Press Center, Sept. 6-11)
202-872-6042

Michael Woods
m_woods@acs.org
317-262-5907 (Indianapolis Press Center, Sept. 6-11)
202-872-6293

American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert


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