23 February 2024

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Novel discovery: Researchers uncover genes linked to colon, rectal cancer

Novel discovery: Researchers uncover genes linked to colon, rectal cancer

Novel discovery: Researchers uncover genes linked to colon, rectal cancer

(Web Desk)-  In a remarkable step towards battling colon and rectal cancer, groundbreaking research conducted by scientists at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in the US has uncovered the identification of novel genes linked with an increased risk of these prevalent types of cancer.

Using an innovative genetic approach known as Transcriptome-Wide Association Studies (TWAS), researchers compared genes exhibiting cancer traits, opening up new horizons for prevention and treatment techniques. This discovery has the potential to reshape the landscape of colon and rectal cancer research and deeply impact the lives of millions affected by these diseases.

Researchers found two new genes, TRPSI and METRNL, that can promote cancer. Another gene, C14orfl66, previously linked to cancer risk, was also corroborated.

 Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colon and rectal cancer, collectively known as colorectal cancer, pose significant health risks worldwide.

Colon cancer is a growth of cells that begins in a part of the large intestine called the colon. The colon is the first and longest part of the large intestine. The large intestine is the last part of the digestive system. The digestive system breaks down food for the body to use.

colorectal cancer

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), colorectal cancer is the third most commonly detected cancer globally, responsible for approximately 1.8 million new cases and over 900,000 deaths each year.

Scientists have been striving to uncover the complex genetic mechanisms underlying the development of these cancers to combat this shocking statistic.

Revolutionary Genetic Methodology

The researchers employed TWAS, an advanced genetic methodology in this study that gauges the correlation between gene expression levels and disease traits. The researchers also employed a new approach called splicing-TWAS, which is not investigated for colorectal cancer.

To make predictions about gene activity, researchers analyzed normal colon tissue genes and genetic data from  423 people of European descent.

The TWAS approach allowed the researchers to investigate gene expression patterns across the entire genome, enabling the identification of earlier undiscovered genetic variants leading to the development and advancement of these kinds of cancer.

Key results

Lead scientist Xingyi Guo said, “Our study used new genetic data and advanced techniques to find these genes. By understanding them better, we can work towards preventing and treating colorectal cancer.”

Although we already knew about 200 genetic variants connected to colorectal cancer, the specific genes and how they work weren’t clear. TWAS helps us find these genes.

The scientists identified 57 genes in total associated with colorectal cancer risk.

Surprisingly, 16 of these genes were completely novel discoveries not found in previous studies.

Significantly, this breakthrough has the capability to revolutionize screening and prevention strategies. Genetic testing could now incorporate the newly discovered genes, allowing individuals to receive personalized risk assessments and facilitating early detection.

Early diagnosis significantly improves the chances of successful treatment and minimizes the mortality rate linked to colon and rectal cancer. The researchers believe that using these advanced techniques will discover even more genes connected to cancer risk in the future.

The discovery of new genes leading to colon and rectal cancer illustrates a significant leap forward in our understanding of these diseases. The groundbreaking TWAS methodology used by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center scientists offers peculiar insights into the genetic factors underlying the development and progression of these cancers.

This discovery paves the way for modified treatment approaches, improved screening methods, and potentially even targeted preventive measures.

With consistent research and innovation, researchers are poised to make great strides in the battle against colon and rectal cancer, instilling hope in millions of individuals and families affected by these diseases.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that this research focused only on people of European descent, subsequently more research is needed to see if these genes apply to other populations across the world.


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