Itxaro Perez, a biochemist at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), has contributed in such a way that, in the long term, the early diagnosis of cancer of the large intestine could be feasible. Specifically, she has focused on certain enzymes known as peptidases and their activity (working rate): she has studied how their activity changes by comparing the tissue encountered at different stages of the disease. If these fluctuations could be correctly distinguished, they would be of use in the future when it comes to knowing how to go about detecting this type of cancer early. The line of research has only just begun, but it could provide many keys. The researcher has defended these initial results in a thesis entitled "Peptidasen Aktibitatearen Aldaketak Heste Lodiko Neoplasietan" (Changes in the activity of peptidases in the neoplasms of the large intestine).
"Cancer of the large intestine does not display any symptoms until it has reached a fairly advanced stage," explains Perez. So the challenge for researchers in this discipline is to secure an early diagnosis. Fortunately, this specific disease has characteristics that lend themselves to research and comparisons: "It has an intermediate phase known as an adenoma. This can be regarded as a cancer since uncontrolled cell growth takes place, but it is benign. The fact that it has this intermediate phase is very good for comparison purposes: firstly we can extract healthy tissue, and then from the adenoma, and after that from the cancer itself. By contrast, in the case of other diseases, the cancer is malignant right away and can only be compared with healthy tissue." This way she has had the chance to observe how the activity of the peptidases evolves when three types of samples are extracted from the intestine (from the colon) of each patient: specifically, from healthy tissue, from an adenoma and from an already developed malignant tumour.
Blood samples, her greatest contribut
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