Prediction of the onset of colon cancer can now be done with the help of a novel biomarker identified by Cincinnati scientists. This biomarker can even predict the seriousness and aggressiveness of the tumor.

Xiang Zhang and Shuk-mei Ho

This is said to be the first study to have described the link between the AMACR gene function with cancer development. These scientists have detected the crucial “hotspots” or the areas of deleted genetic data, in controlling the gene expression and its effect on the development of colon cancer. They believe that these hotspots could act as biomarkers for colon cancer detection.

The researchers evaluated the AMACR gene function in human tissue. They discovered that this gene broke down the branched-chain fatty acids. This is said to be the molecule present in herbivorous animals. Prior research has stated that plant-derived fatty acid have the potential to quicken the growth of cancer.

First author, Xiang Zhang, Phd, UC environmental health research associate, says that, “From the colon tissues, we’ve identified two types of genetic deletions that may allow us to predict whether people will have a good or bad cancer outcome. If a person carries one of the deletions, it may predispose him or her to a more aggressive type of colon cancer.”

The researchers believe that a diet rich in red meat and low fiber may increase a person’s risk of colon cancer development. They hope that their recent discovery may aid them in the development of enhanced diagnostic tools to treat colon cancer. They also say that people by bringing about a change in their lifestyle can reduce their chances of developing colon cancer from a gene-environmental interaction.

More research is required in order to verify their results.

Their findings are published in the PLoS Genetics issue.