Policy & Regulation
City of Hope-Developed Blood Test May Screen for Early-onset Colorectal Cancer
11 August 2022 - - Scientists at California, US-based cancer research and treatment organization city of Hope may have developed a novel blood test that can be used to detect early-onset colorectal cancer, which has been on the rise in younger adults in recent years, the organization said.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate of colon or rectal cancers in people younger than 50 years old has been on the rise, an alarming trend, particularly because young people diagnosed with this nonhereditary form of colorectal cancer generally have more aggressive and advanced disease at diagnosis compared to late-onset colorectal cancer diagnosed in people 50 years or older.

As a result, the recommendation to begin regular colorectal cancer screening has been moved to start five years earlier at age 45.

In the study, recently published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers systematically conducted a genome-wide analysis to identify miRNA signatures by analyzing a large, publicly available dataset.

They extrapolated the data of patients with either Stage 1 or 2 early-onset colorectal cancer or patients with late-onset colorectal cancer.

(MiRNAs regulate gene expression.) Scientists then validated the results using blood samples from 149 patients with early-onset colorectal cancer and compared the data with a control group of 110.

While exciting, more research using larger patient cohorts must be performed before this novel liquid biopsy can be used in the clinic.

To enhance specificity and accuracy, the researchers eliminated all miRNA markers shared by people with early- and late-onset colorectal cancer to better identify patients with early-onset colorectal cancer.

They were able to identify four miRNAs that, combined, create a signature biomarker which can be used to detect and diagnose the presence of early-onset colorectal cancer in younger adults.

The study "A liquid biopsy signature for the detection of patients with early-onset colorectal cancer" was published in Gastroenterology.

The research was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (CA72851, CA181572, CA184792, CA202797 and CA227602) as well as from Fundación Mapfre Guanarterme.

Founded in 1913, city of Hope has grown into one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the US and one of the leading research centers for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.