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Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer Research Progress



I have been involved in raising money for colon cancer research, but it just doesn’t get the media attention breast cancer does. So I’m wondering, what’s going on right now in colon cancer research? Are there any recent breakthroughs in testing or treatment?


Thank you for your efforts in raising funds for colon cancer research. Federal funds for research are becoming scarcer and scarcer (you can find out more about this at http://www.nccra.org/), so efforts like yours are greatly appreciated.

My own lab has had a focused effort in developing new tests for non-invasive early detection of colon cancers by detecting a cancer associated DNA molecule that we can find present in the stools of 80% of individuals with colon cancer.

We described the original development of the test in:

Chen WD, Han ZJ, Skoletsky J, Olson J, Sah JF, Myeroff L, Platzer P, Lu S-L, Dawson DM, Willis J, Pretlow TP, Lutterbaugh J, Kasturi L, Willson J, Rao JS, Shuber A, Markowitz SD. Detection in fecal DNA of colon cancer-specific methylation of the nonexpressed vimentin gene. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005;97:1124-32.

Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) has developed a commercial implementation of the technology for use in the clinic, under the tradename ColonSure.

We are working toward the type of large scale clinical trials of the test that would be needed for FDA approval.

We have also developed a version of this as a blood test for colon cancer. The assay works in blood, and in its current form can detect about half of individuals with early stage colon cancers. We described this in:

Li M, Chen WD, Papadopoulos N, Goodman SN, Bjerregaard NC, Laurberg S, Levin B, Juhl H, Arber N, Moinova H, Durkee K, Schmidt K, He Y, Diehl F, Velculescu VE, Zhou S, Diaz LA, Jr., Kinzler KW, Markowitz SD, Vogelstein B. Sensitive digital quantification of DNA methylation in clinical samples. Nat Biotechnol. 2009;27(9):858-63.

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Response by:

Sanford  Markowitz, MD, PhD Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University