They discovered a hundred proteins that can detect cancer 7 years before diagnosis

A group of British scientists has identified a set of more than a hundred proteins present in the blood that can warn of cancer 7 years before it is diagnosed. The results of the study were published this Wednesday in the journal Natural communications.

Researchers from the Department of Public Health at the University of Oxford (Oxford Population Health) used blood samples from the UK Biobank, a registry of genetic information of half a million Britons.

They received samples from 44,000 people, including 4,900 people who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Thanks to the blood samples, they were able to analyze all the proteins that resulted from their genetic code and their possible interactions. This is what is known as proteomics.

The main function of genes is to produce proteins. The goal of proteomics is to obtain a map of the set of proteins in a given genome.. Increasingly powerful analysis technologies have made this leap possible.

Thus, they were able to analyze and compare a set of 1,463 proteins for each blood sample provided.

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They identified 618 proteins that are associated with 19 different types of cancer. There were 182 people who had a blood difference three years before their cancer diagnosis, and 107 who had it at least 7 years before..

The role of these proteins in the development of future tumors remains to be determined, but scientists believe this is a big step to be able to find the “prehistory” of cancer in the body and act either preventively or at very early stages. in the early stages using drugs that target these specific proteins.

Karen Papier, first author of the study and senior nutritional epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health, explains that “to save more lives from cancer, we need to better understand what happens in the early stages of the disease.”

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“Data from thousands of people with cancer,” he continues, “has revealed some really interesting information about how proteins in our blood can influence our risk of developing cancer. We now need to carefully study these proteins to see which ones can be used for prevention.” “

For his part, Joshua Atkins, a genomic epidemiologist at the same institution and one of the first authors of the paper, notes that “the genes we are born with, and the proteins created with their help, have a very significant impact on how the virus originates and develops.” . “cancer” is growing.

“Thank you to the thousands of people who donated blood samples to Biobank UK. We’re building a much more detailed picture of how genes influence cancer development for many years”.

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The work, funded by Cancer Research UK (the not-for-profit association that is the main private funder of cancer research in the UK) as part of its strategic plan to find early clues to cancer, follows on from another work. which was published at the end of April by the same magazine.

In this case, genetic data from 300,000 cancer cases was analyzed to identify proteins present in the blood that were involved in development.

The researchers found 40 proteins associated with the risk of developing nine common types of cancer: bladder, breast, endometrial, head and neck, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, kidney and nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Early detection of cancer using non-invasive methods is the “Holy Grail” of prevention.. There are many studies examining the potential of so-called “liquid biopsies,” taking blood samples to analyze molecules that warn of the presence of tumors before they are detected by imaging tests.

These advances, although promising, have not yet been translated into clinical practice. Long-term studies are needed to determine with complete certainty which of these proteins warn of future tumors, and to avoid both false positives (misdiagnosis) and false negatives (undetected cancer).

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