February 8, 2016/BIOON/--American scientists have identified a kind of tumor specificity genetic marker, specifically present in five different types of cancer tissues. This discovery can help develop a simple blood test for early diagnosis for patients with cancer.
The genetic trait is actually the DNA methylation. DNA methylation can regulate the expression of various genes. Having identified this methylation biomarker, the scientists uncovered consistent evidence of it in five different kinds of tumors: colon, lung, breast, stomach, and endometrial cancers.
"Finding a distinctive methylation-based signature is like looking for a spruce tree in a pine forest," said computational biologist Laura Elnitski from the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). "It's a technical challenge to identify, but we found an elevated methylation signature around the gene known as ZNF154 that is unique to tumors.”
The scientists will now be looking at whether the signature can be used to diagnose other cancers, such as bladder, pancreatic and prostate cancers. While the scientists involved h yet fully understand the link between the pathology of tumors and the biomarker, they have some ideas. It may represent derailment of normal processes in the cell, or it may have something to do with the growth of tumors. Anyway, the scientific breakthrough provides a new tool for early diagnosis of cancers.