Two proteins identified that would help diagnose colon cancer

Two proteins identified that would help diagnose colon cancer

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People who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are more likely to develop colon cancer because the chronic inflammation that characterizes these pathologies is one of the risk factors that predispose to this type of tumor, but the aspects are not yet known. at the molecular level of the relationship between cancer and inflammation.

A new study carried out by researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and Stanford University (United States), can help to better understand this relationship because it has identified two proteins that are involved in inflammation bookmarks diagnosis of colon cancer and of the ulcerative colitis.

Having these risk markers in the early stages of the disease could improve survival rates. Inflammation is a response of our immune system that is triggered to protect the body from stimuli that damage it and activate healing and regeneration processes, explained the authors of the study, which has been published in Cancer Communications.

Chronic inflammation as a risk factor for cancer

Chronic inflammation is also one of the causes related to the appearance of cancer and for this reason there are many researchers who are trying to determine the role that inflammation plays in the development of this disease in order to search for new and more effective antitumor treatments. The authors of the new study have analyzed the levels of the proteins p38γ and p38δ, regulators of inflammation, as well as their activation mechanism and the expression levels of their messenger RNAs, in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

“The increase in p38γ levels is related to the expression of proteins involved in inflammation and the immune response, proteins related to tumors, and other molecules involved in inflammatory processes and in the development of cancer”

“We have observed that, in sick patients, the levels of p38δ decrease, while those of p38γ increase, in particular the activation, caused by phosphorylation, of this protein”, explained Ana Cuenda, a researcher at the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB -CSIC). “Detection of these changes in plasma samples would facilitate the use of these proteins as markers by liquid biopsy,” she says.

Pilar Fajardo, first author of the study and also a CNB-CSIC researcher, stated: “The increase in p38γ levels is related to the expression of proteins involved in inflammation and the immune response, such as IL-6 and CCL5, proteins related to tumours, such as MMP9 and TIMP1, and other molecules equally involved in inflammatory processes and in the development of cancer”. “This suggests that p38γ may have clinical value in detecting risk early and improving survival rates,” she says.

“The approach in this research has been comprehensive”, affirm Cuenda and Juan José Sanz-Ezquerro, researcher at the CNB-CSIC, “because we have used human samples of blood plasma, we have analyzed different databases of mRNA from human patients and we have generated miniaturized organs or organoids derived from patient tumors, in collaboration with a team from the Alberto Sols Biomedical Research Institute (IIB-CSIC-UAM)”.

These researchers have also used a colitis-associated colon cancer model in mice, in which they have verified that, in the absence of these proteins, the animals have less inflammation and develop fewer tumors. The results in this model have been similar to those observed with human samples, so the described mechanism could be generalized.

Source: Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)

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