Biomarker May Predict Colorectal Cancer Disease Prognosis

January 5, 2016
Rachel Lutz

Predicting colon cancer progression and individualizing therapies may be doable based on a newly identified biomarker, according to findings published in Gut.

Predicting colon cancer progression and individualizing therapies may be doable based on a newly identified biomarker, according to findings published in Gut.

Researchers from Baylor Research Institute analyzed levels of four small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) in 274 colorectal tissues to systematically evaluate dysregulation of snoRNAs in colorectal cancer (CRC) and clarified their biomarker potential and biological significance in CRC. The samples were collected from three independent cohorts and six colon cancer cell lines.

SnoRNA42 was reportedly over expressed in CRC cells compared to normal tissue and was significantly correlated to disease progression. The over expression increased the CRC cells’ ability to rapidly multiply, form tumors, invade normal tissue, and survive natural apoptosis.

The researchers were able to experimentally suppress snoRNA42, which reversed the effects. The team discovered that elevated expression appeared to predict recurrence and poor prognosis in CRC patients.

The researchers mentioned that although there have been recent advances in CRC treatments, the outlook for patients with CRC is still not optimistic. As such it is important to identify prognosis markers to predict the clinical outcome of CRC patients.

“We need predictive biomarkers that can identify patients who are at high risk for developing tumor recurrence, especially in those with stage 2 colorectal cancer,” lead investigator and senior author Ajay Goel, PhD, explained in a press release. “The majority of patients with stage 2 colorectal cancer will be cured with surgery alone, but some will relapse and eventually die,” concluded Goel. “Molecular biomarkers, such as snoRA42, could help determine which patients might have a better prognosis with more aggressive treatment. They also provide us with targets for the development of very specific, personalized anti cancer interventions.”

The researchers said snoRNA42 is the first molecule of its kind to be pinpointed as a biomarker of colorectal cancer; though, snoRNAs as a whole were identified about 15 years ago.

The research team has a few options of snoRNAs to continue testing to determine whether they are biomarkers for CRC in the future. Their advancements may contribute to better testing in the future — the noninvasive blood or stool tests used to find snoRNA42 may be developed quickly and easily. Additionally, other biomarkers may soon follow.