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Expression of five genes in tumor microenvironment could allow for accurate prognosis of colorectal cancer

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Researchers at the Catalan Institute of Oncology-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (Barcelona, Spain) have developed a tool based on the expression of five genes that may allow accurate prognosis of patients suffering from intermediate-stage colorectal cancer.

The team, led by David Garcia-Molleví (Catalan Institute of Oncology-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Barcelona), have identified five genes differentially expressed in normal accompanying cells in colorectal tumors. Analysis of these genes could not only be utilized in colorectal tumor classification, but could also be used to predict the evolution of the patient’s disease and thus assist in making appropriate clinical decisions to prevent relapses.

Approximately 30,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year, of these around 70% are classified at an intermediate stage. There are currently no reliable criteria concerning the addition of systemic therapy to surgery in at least half of these cases. It is therefore of utmost importance that those patients who will benefit from chemotherapy are identified in order to avoid exposing individuals to the additional risks that can arise from unnecessary overtreatment.

Biomarkers are needed to accurately identify the characteristics of each tumor and hence inform us of the potential outcome of each patient. In cancer, the malignant cells and normal accompanying cells can both be a source of such biomarkers.

Garcia-Molleví studies the tumor microenvironment in search of these biomarkers, and believes that this work represents a step toward a possible clinical application of these results. He stated, “With the analysis of only five genes by routine techniques, we provide very precise information about the likelihood of relapse and the appropriateness of administering chemotherapy patients with stage II disease.”

Source: Five genes to predict colorectal cancer relapses; Berdiel-Acer M, Molleví DG, Sanz-Pamplona R et al. A 5-gene classifier from the carcinoma-associated fibroblast transcriptomic profile and clinical outcome in colorectal cancer. Oncotarget. 5(15), 6437–6452, (2014).

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