Indian Scientist Finds Way to Detect Colon Cancer as Easily as Diabetes

A new study led by Dr. Sengupta from the National Institute of Immunology in India has found a way to identify colon cancer as early as stage 1 through his lab's work on microRNAs.

A collaborative study between four Indian institutes (National Institute Of Immunology, AIIMS, Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad, St John’s Research Hospital, Bengaluru) and one French Institute, University of Strasbourg, have found a way to detect colon cancer as early as stage 1, to ensure effective patient recovery.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer in men and second most common form of cancer in women. 

Colon cancer is a form of cancer that is typically detected at a late stage, through a colonoscopy or immunohistochemistry. 

A study led by Dr. Sagar Sengupta from the National Institute of Immunology in India has found that a new method can detect colon cancer in stage 1 through his lab’s work on microRNAs. The study has found that microRNAs are small, single-stranded, non-coding RNA molecules that function in RNA silencing. They are known to fuse to the mRNA, or messenger RNA, molecules that code for proteins that inactivate or destroy them.

Dr. Sengupta found that six microRNAs get upregulated in colon cancer cells. Lab experiments found that the cells have a higher probability to form cancer if there is an overexpression of these microRNAs. The levels of microRNAs are controlled by the master regulator protein, CDX2. ‘DNA damage sensitive microRNAs, or DDMS, were found to target a group of cellular proteins that maintain the genetic material’s original nature.

In a statement, Dr. Sengupta said that the researchers believe the identified DDSMs can serve as an essential biomarker to detect colon cancer in the early stages. The next step is to determine if the DDSMs can be detected in blood. If so, colon cancer will be as easy to detect as diabetes.