In a significant breakthrough, researchers from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in the US have uncovered new genes associated with a heightened risk of colon and rectal cancer, potentially revolutionizing cancer prevention and treatment strategies.
Utilizing an innovative genetic method called TWAS (Transcriptome-Wide Association Study), the scientists compared genes with cancer traits and identified two new genes, TRPS1 and METRNL, that can promote cancer. Additionally, they confirmed the link between the previously identified gene, C14orf66, and cancer risk.
Lead scientist Xingyi Guo emphasized the importance of this study, stating, “Our study utilized new genetic data and advanced techniques to pinpoint these genes. A better understanding of them paves the way for enhanced strategies to prevent and treat colorectal cancer.”
While approximately 200 genetic variants related to colorectal cancer were known, the specific genes and their mechanisms remained unclear. TWAS provides a powerful tool for identifying these genes.
The researchers also explored a novel approach called splicing-TWAS, which had not been extensively studied in the context of colorectal cancer. They analyzed genes from normal colon tissue and genetic data from 423 individuals of European descent, leading to predictions about gene activity.
In total, they identified 57 genes associated with colorectal cancer risk, with 16 of these genes being entirely new discoveries not previously found in research.
While this study marks a significant advancement, it’s essential to note that the research focused on individuals of European descent. Further studies are necessary to determine if these genes have similar implications for other populations. Nonetheless, the use of advanced techniques holds promise for unveiling additional genes linked to cancer risk in the future.