One of the best tools in the fight against cancer is diagnostics. In 2018, colorectal cancer was the second most lethal cancer in the world due to a lack of effective diagnostic tools. It is often not caught until it reaches later stages, where treatments are less impactful.
Modern diagnostics identify diseases and their severity by following biomarkers. Biomarkers are genes, proteins, or other factors with abnormal expression levels in diseases compared to healthy tissues. In cancer, this type of diagnostic method has become popular in the research. Future diagnostic tools will be able to identify a disease and identify the best way to treat it.
A recent screening study in colorectal cancer found that the protein transcobalamin 1 is abnormally expressed. This protein has various cellular roles and has been found in high levels in several types of cancer. A team from the Hebei Medical University in China decided to investigate this biomarker candidate to diagnose colorectal cancer.
The team began by confirming that transcobalamin 1 is overexpressed in colorectal patients versus healthy tissue. Statistical analysis revealed it was strongly associated with a poor prognosis and late stages of colorectal cancer. These observations indicate transcobalamin 1 may act as a good diagnostic marker for colorectal cancer. On top of that, there was a distinct decrease in transcobalamin 1 levels after being treated with chemotherapy.
The team then examined how transcobalamin 1 acted as a tumor promoter. Computational analysis showed that many proteins involved in pro-tumor signaling were upregulated alongside transcobalamin 1. They could not further elaborate, however.
In this study, transcobalamin 1 proved to be a strong candidate for a diagnostic biomarker. It was clearly overexpressed in colorectal cancers, and this expression decreased upon undergoing chemotherapy showing it has potential as a chemosensitivity marker. How it works as a pro-tumor factor remains unknown, however.
The team concludes, “Taken together, we conclude that TCN1 expression is significantly overexpressed in colon cancer and is correlated with advanced pathological features. TCN1 may be a predictor of prognosis and a potential biomarker for predicting chemosensitivity.”