Veterinary researchers identify biomarkers for colon cancer

Veterinary researchers identify biomarkers for colon cancer

Jul 01, 2011

Columbia, Mo. — University of Missouri (MU) researchers, including those at the College of Veterinary Medicine, have identified biomarkers that may lead to better screening tests for colon cancer in people and animals.

This new testing method developed at the MU's Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (RADIL) could eliminate the need for colonoscopies, according to the school. While working on colon cancer therapeutics, veterinary researchers found biomarkers in mouse feces that predicted inflammation-associated colon cancer. The bacterium that leads to these types of cancer in mice could be detected by screening feces for messenger RNA of genes, according to MU, and the hope is that feces screening could replace colonoscopies in the future.

Aaron Ericsson, a post-doctoral researcher at MU says if the discovery evolves as hoped, it could have great implications for both human and animal medicine.

"We're excited about the potential for application in humans, but this also will decrease animal numbers, which is one of our goals," says Craig Franklin, associate professor of veterinary pathobiology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. "This test determines which mice will get cancer in advance, so we won't need to have as many animals in an experimental group to achieve statistical significance."

"There's also no stress on the animal for us to test their fecal matter," Ericsson adds. "Many people put off colonoscopies longer than they should because of the invasiveness and unpleasant nature of the exam, and it's not pleasant for mice either. That unpleasantness is negated with this test."