A new study published in the journal named Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications has identified a new marker for detection of colorectal carcinoma. This has opened a new door for the early diagnosis of this disease.
These findings may also help establish a new route in order to treat various types of cancer.
The Discovery of an Important Enzyme Function
Researchers belonging to the Johns Hopkins University present in Baltimore were behind this new work. The team of researchers went through 24 different tissue samples taken from patients of colorectal carcinoma.
The team was particularly interested in examining a membrane-bound enzyme known as the beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase-V (beta-1,4-GaIT-V). In order to assess if it might be a useful marker for the diagnosis of colorectal carcinoma, the scientists tested a sample tissue with the help of antibodies against beta-1,4-GalT-V.
The test showed that the amount of this specific protein was much higher in the cells of colorectal cancer as compared to the healthy cells that surrounded the cancerous cells in the sample tissue.
In fact, according to the researchers, beta-1,4-GalT-V was found to be 6.5 times higher in cancer cells as compared to the normal cells.
This was not it. The researchers also noticed an increase in the quantities of another enzyme known as lactosylceramide synthase which is actually a product of the activity shown by beta-1,4-GalT-V.
These new findings correlated with the findings of the previous research carried out by the same researchers. In 2013, this group performed an experiment on mice with tumors in the kidneys.
The scientists manage these mice with a chemical named D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (D-PDMP). This chemical is known to inhibit beta-1,4-GalT-V production.
This intervention was found to reduce the size of tumors into one-half in a matter of 4 weeks.
The Role of D-PDMP
The scientists say that they are aware that beta-1,4-GalT-V is found in the endothelial cells of the blood vessels as well as the cancer cells in high amounts. If you manage such cells with a medicine that targets beta-1,4-GalT-V, it will also attack the endothelial cells containing this agent and lead to neutralization of their activity.
With this scenario in mind, the researchers tested D-PDMP on human bowel cancer cells grown in a lab. Within 24 to 96 hours of the study, there was a marked reduction in the production of beta-1,4-GalT-V. Moreover, a higher rate of cell death among the cancer cells was seen.
This provides sufficient evidence that beta-1,4-GalT-V is, in fact, a target for cell proliferation. Moreover, this cell proliferation can be blocked with the help of D-PDMP.
This research is exciting because it laid the foundation for a new way to test for colorectal cancer using a blood sample. Moreover, it may also provide innovative ways to slow down the progression of this disease.
A lot of work is required before any of these discoveries can be introduced to the clinical practice. However, the study has offered a great deal of hope. It has given a ray of hope to the medical communities regarding early diagnosis and better treatment of colorectal carcinoma.