Health Spain , Salamanca, Thursday, April 18 of 2013, 15:47

A kit to make early diagnoses for colorectal cancer

Scientists and companies join together for a project aimed to identify tumor markers

José Pichel Andrés/ DICYT The Universidad de Salamanca takes part in a study led by a company called Proalt (Madrid) that aims to develop a new method for colorectal cancer early diagnosis. The increased prevalence of this type of tumor requires an earlier an better identification of sarcomas and relapses in order to reduce mortality. Colodetect project pursues this goal by analyzing molecular markers with a simple blood test to determine the presence of tumors. The ultimate objective is to develop a kit to be used in any hospital to automatically and quickly perform tests and obtain results.

“Colorectal cancer is a major problem because of the increasing number of patients in developed countries; an early diagnose leads to an early treatment”, as DiCYT was told by Francisco Javier García Criado, dean of the Medical School and representative of the Universidad de Salamanca in this study.

In the quest for early diagnoses, some proteins in blood samples may become tumor markers. “Their changes suggest a neoplastic process or a relapse from removed cancer repeating tumor activity. The problem is that sometimes those markers are not as specific as we would like them to be; other conditions can produce false-positive findings or, even worst, false-negative findings”, he explains.

Fast and Easy

Therefore, the end goal is to identify new proteins allowing us to make reliable diagnoses when found in blood and, from this information, to develop a test using a suitable format for fast and easy clinical trials.
“Interestingly, these proteins appear early in colorectal cancer, so, when their number rises in blood, it means these tumors are present”, García Criado states.

A kit is a perfectly designed test for assessment; it is a set of reagents that, in this case, would be presented in a format called ELISA. In this regard, the project is not aimed to improve basic knowledge, but to be used in hospitals as soon as possible. Companies are getting involved in order to bring this study to clinical practice. As Proalt, a company called Biomedal is also participating; regarding public institutions, the Universidad de Salamanca works hand in hand with the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), a cancer research center dependent on CSIC.

Due to the current status of the study, which is advanced and shows preliminary positive results, “we are in optimistic mood regarding the validity of the end kit”, the expert asserts. “We believe diagnoses will be highly reliable, therefore, early and inexpensive diagnoses”, he adds.

Scientists have already identified some very specific proteins and are working with them. “Probably, instead of using a single protein for the kit, it would be necessary to combine some of them in order to obtain the specificity we are looking for.”, as the researcher states. In any case, complex and expensive current tests are to be avoided.

Prior to this study, some specific proteins were identified in patients, but it is of fundamental importance to match this information using patients with other conditions and healthy individuals, in order to overcome conflicting results arising from some markers.

Patients in Madrid and Salamanca

This study leading to the development of the kit aims to have samples from about 2,000 patients, which allows to confirm that the presence of some proteins in blood is directly linked to colorectal cancer. The study began in 2011 and, in a few months, more than 1,200 samples were obtained, even though previous studies had many more samples. The patients come from hospitals in Madrid and from the Hospital Universitario de Salamanca, where many experts from different departments collaborate on this study: General Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Urology, Neurosurgery, Breast Surgery and Colorectal Surgery.

Study Card
| Project | COLODETECT: Designing ELISA Mechanisms for Colorectal Cancer Early Diagnose | Partners | PROALT (coordinator), Biomedal, CSIC and Universidad de Salamanca | Budget | 638,478.74 Euros |Funding | INNPACTO projects | Duration | 2011-2014 |