A set of 26 unique proteins can provide doctors clarity of an early stage in the development of intestinal cancer. This is the conclusion of VITO post-doctoral researcher Evelyne Maes, who received a completion grant from the Flemish Cancer League (VLK) in 2014 to continue her doctoral work. The research significantly reduces the risk of advanced cancer.
Screening for colon cancer has been required in Flanders since 2014 for all 50 to 74 year-olds. This is necessary because this form of cancer is frequently detected only at a late stage. For the moment, doctors can only analyse faeces for blood formation or examine the colon using a colonoscopy. Such methods are uncomfortable and do not guarantee a conclusive diagnosis. So smaller tumours frequently go undetected.
In 2014, post-doctoral researcher Evelyne Maes (VITO) received a completion grant from the Flemish Cancer League to develop a new method for detecting colon cancer. She was able to select a set of 26 proteins that can serve as biomarkers. When analysing blood, researchers examine the expression level of these proteins: if the level deviates from normal values, this indicates cancer. The biomarker, which has since been patented, makes screening for colon cancer more accessible and more accurate at an early stage.
One of the VITO areas of expertise is proteomics: the analysis of all proteins and peptides in a cell, organ or organism. The research of Evelyne Maes is an excellent example of this.