In addition to intestinal samples, Perez has also analysed the plasma by comparing blood samples from patients suffering this cancer with those of healthy individuals. This is in fact the main contribution of her thesis: the taking of steps to be able to identify evidence of the disease in the blood itself. "Obtaining plasma from the patient is straightforward. If it could help to make an early diagnosis, it would be a very valuable method for clinical applications", she explained.
Plasma has already been used with the same aim in other types of cancer. As proof of this, Perez has long been conducting research on renal cancer in collaboration with her colleagues at the Department of Physiology at the UPV/EHU. But this is a field that has not been studied very much in cancer of the large intestine, and considerable differences have been found: "In the kidneys we saw that the activity changes in many of the peptidases, but this does not happen in the large intestine. Some change, others do not. We were not aware of that."
So a plasma analysis of the peptidases that are susceptible to undergoing changes of activity could, in the long term, become a useful tool for diagnosing cancer of the large intestine. But that is not all: these changes also take place differently depending on the phase or condition that the cancer is in. This means that this analysis can also be used for prognosis purposes.
Although the results obtained do shed some light, more exhaustive research now needs to be undertaken to determine how relevant the peptidases are in the formation, evolution and causes of this type of cancer. For example, the conclusions need to be verified by other means, other characteristics of these enzymes (apart from their activity) need to be studied, etc. In connection with this, Perez and her colleagues will be taking another step forward from next year onwards: "The samples we studied date back to 2007. As five years have
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