Researchers have discovered proteins CCSA-3 and CCSA-4, present in blood that accurately identify colon cancer and precancerous polyps, which might be used to develop a blood test to identify at-risk individuals.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Robert Getzenberg at the Johns Hopkins' Brady Urological Institute.
These proteins were first discovered by Getzenberg and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh through a protein scan.
As part of the study, to find whether the two blood-dwelling proteins are to be remnants of cellular debris castoff from dead cancer cells, researchers drew blood samples from 107 apparently healthy individuals the day before their scheduled colonoscopies, and from 28 colorectal cancer patients.
Alteration of nuclear scaffolding is a hallmark of cancer cells that is easily detectable under the microscope as a misshapen and discoloured nucleus. This led the researchers to the notion that 'there must be something at the molecular level that would form a molecular flag for cancer via a blood test.'
Researchers used a particular concentration of scaffold-proteins as a marker for disease.
Researchers found 100 percent accurate results in identifying the 28 existing cancers, using the same protein markers.
"These proteins seem very good at separating normal samples from cancerous ones and identifying other groups with pre-cancers at high risk for disease as well," Getzenberg said.
The findings of the study were published in the June issue of Cancer Research.