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Indian-origin scientist identifies cancer’s food sensors

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London: An Indian-origin researcher from Oxford University has identified a protein used by cancer tumours to help them detect food supplies.

Initial results show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells’ ability to grow.

“We found that aggressive cancer cells manufacture more protein named PAT4 which enables them to make better use of available nutrients than the cells around them – including healthy tissue,” said Dr Deborah Goberdhan from Oxford University’s department of physiology, anatomy and genetics.

Cancer cells often have restricted access to the body’s nutrient-rich blood supply.

The ability to sense and acquire nutrients is critical for a cancer to grow.

Dr Goberdhan and cancer researcher Adrian Harris collaborated to develop an antibody that could be used to highlight PAT4 in human tissue samples.

This was then used to study anonymous tumour samples taken from patients with colorectal cancer, a common form of the disease.

The results were compared to the known outcomes for the patients.

Those who had higher levels of PAT4 in their tumours did less well than those with lower levels – being more likely to relapse and die.

The researchers then looked at what happened when PAT4 levels were reduced. They showed that by reducing PAT4 levels, cancerous tumours grew more slowly.

“’These findings support each other. Not only do higher levels of PAT4 mean a worse outcome, but lowering levels improves the situation,” Dr Goberdhan pointed out.

“This means that we have identified a mechanism which cancer cells prefer to use and which we might be able to target as part of a combination treatment,” he concluded.

The research was published in the science journal Oncogene.

(IANS)

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Saliva Test can Detect Oropharyngeal Cancer

Saliva test can detect mouth, throat cancer early

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Saliva test shows promise for earlier and easier detection of mouth and throat cancer. Pixabay

A non-invasive saliva test can detect human papilloma virus-16 — the strain associated with oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) — showing promise for earlier and easier detection of mouth and throat cancer, report researchers.

The novel technique detected OPC in whole saliva in 40 per cent of patients tested and 80 per cent of confirmed OPC patients.

OPC has an approximate incidence of 115,000 cases per year worldwide and is one of the fastest-rising cancers owing to increasing HPV-related incidence, especially in younger patients.

“It is paramount that surveillance methods are developed to improve early detection and outcomes,” said co-lead investigator Tony Jun Huang from Duke University in the US.

Cancers that occur in the back of the mouth and upper throat are often not diagnosed until they become advanced, partly because their location makes them difficult to see during routine clinical exams.

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Cancers that occur in the back of the mouth and upper throat are often not diagnosed until they become advanced. Pixabay

“The successful detection of HPV from salivary exosomes isolated by our acoustofluidic platform offers distinct advantages, including early detection, risk assessment and screening,” added Dr Huang in a paper published in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.

This technique may also help physicians predict which patients will respond well to radiation therapy or achieve longer progression-free survival.

In the study, investigators analyzed saliva samples from 10 patients diagnosed with HPV-OPC using traditional methods.

They found that the technique identified the tumour biomarker in 80 per cent of the cases when coupled with the traditional detection method called droplet digital PCR.

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“The saliva exosome liquid biopsy is an effective early detection and risk assessment approach for OPC,” said co-lead investigator David TW Wong from University of California-Los Angeles.

According to the researchers, this technology can also be used to analyze other biofluids such as blood, urine and plasma. (IANS)