The world’s first colorectal cancer membrane proteins database has been established by Academia Sinica’s Institute of Chemistry and researchers have identified several proteins that have the potential to become biomarkers for early detection of colorectal cancer.
Funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, a research team led by Chen Yu-ju (陳玉如), research fellow and director of the institute, has developed a highly efficient proteomics analysis by combining mass spectrometry and a new bioinformatics system.
Chen said although currently only a few protein biomarkers are used clinically for detecting cancers compared with cancer detection using DNA early predictors, the team considers proteins in cell membranes to be a more direct biomarker for detecting the early stages of cancer.
By using the analysis to compare the concentration levels of proteins from cancer cells of 28 colorectal cancer patients with those from normal cells, the team created the world’s first database that can effectively detect the changes in concentration levels of 846 proteins.
In addition to the information collected from the 28 cancer patients, the team also identified — by analyzing the blood samples of 70 colorectal cancer patients — stomatin-like protein 2 (STOML2) as a potential biomarker for detecting colorectal cancer, Chen said.
Using multiple biomarkers to ensure a better chance of detection, Chen said when the concentration level changes of STOML2 were analyzed with a tested protein biomarker, the detection level was as high as 87 percent.
Chen said although more trials would be needed to determine whether the proteins can be used as biomarkers, the findings show the potential of a non-invasive method to screen for colorectal cancer.