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A way to predict cancer development years before diagnosis has been found

Maria ShevchukNews
New research will allow to detect cancer long before the official diagnosis. Source: iStock

Proteins in the blood can warn people of impending cancer seven years before they are officially diagnosed. This was shown by two studies funded by Cancer Research UK.

In the course of the study, scientists identified 618 proteins associated with 19 different types of cancer, including 107 proteins obtained from blood samples from people at least seven years before their diagnosis. The researchers found that these proteins may be associated with early stages of the disease, at which prevention is possible, Study Finds writes.

"Data from thousands of people with cancer have revealed interesting information about how proteins in our blood can affect our risk of developing cancer. Now we need to study these proteins in depth to understand which ones can be reliably used for prevention," says Dr. Karl Smith-Byrne, senior molecular epidemiologist at the Oxford Population Health Clinic.

In the first study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers analyzed blood samples taken from more than 44,000 people from the British Biobank. Among them were more than 4,900 people who were later diagnosed.

A way to predict cancer development years before diagnosis has been found

Proteomics was used to analyze 1,463 proteins from a single blood sample from each person. Proteomics is what allows scientists to conduct large-scale studies of proteins. For this work, the team compared the proteins of people who later developed cancer and those who did not. They found 182 proteins that were different in the blood three years before the cancer diagnosis.

"The genes we are born with and the proteins they make have a huge impact on how cancer starts and develops. Thanks to the thousands of people who have donated blood samples to the British Biobank, we are building a much more complete picture of how genes influence cancer development over the years," said Dr. Joshua Atkins, senior genomic epidemiologist at the Oxford Population Health Clinic and one of the first authors of the first study.

In the second study, the researchers analyzed genetic data from more than 300,000 cancer cases to better understand which blood proteins are involved in tumor formation and could be ideal targets for treatment. Forty proteins in the blood affected the risk of nine different types of cancer. However, scientists emphasize that further research is needed.

"Cancer prevention means detecting early signs of the disease. It means intensive, painstaking research aimed at finding the molecular signals that we need to pay close attention to. The discoveries made as a result of this research are an important first step towards preventive therapy that will allow people to live longer and better lives without fear of cancer," says Dr. Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cancer Research UK.

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