Another Step Toward a Urine Test for Colon Cancer

A new study from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro brings the scientific world one step closer to a urine test for the detection of colon cancer.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) have completed a study that brings the scientific world one step closer to a urine test for the detection of colon cancer, according to the American Chemical Society.

Lead researcher Wei Jai, Department of Nutrition, UNCG, and his team analyzed urine metabolites from 123 individuals, 60 whom had colon cancer and 63 whom did not. The team found 16 aspects of the human body’s composition to be different in patients with colon cancer when compared to healthy individuals, which included a significantly increased tryptophan metabolism. The tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and gut microflora metabolism were also disturbed in these patients. In addition, abnormal histamine and glutamate metabolisms were observed in the urine of colon cancer patients.

A parallel metabonomic study on a 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-treated Sprague-Dawley rat model was also performed “to identify significantly altered metabolites associated with chemically induced precancerous colorectal lesion.” In the urine of these animals, the researchers saw an abnormal polyamine metabolism.

After obtaining results from the rat model and the ill patients, the researchers compared these findings to the levels of the same substances in patients who had just had surgery for the treatment of colon cancer. In these post-surgery patients, the expression of 5-hydroxytryptophan significantly decreased, which, according to the researchers, suggests a recovered tryptophan metabolism toward healthy state.

Though a formal urine test is still in development, the researchers hope that such a test for the detection of colon cancer would eliminate the need for colonoscopies, a new diagnostic procedure that would be less invasive, uncomfortable, and expensive than the current method. Study results were also published in the Journal of Proteome Research.