New genes assist in early detection of gastric cancer

New research has suggested that combined detection of ZIC1, HOXD10 and RUNX3 promoter hypermethylation might be a promising strategy for early detection of gastric cancer and precancerous lesions.

Gastric cancer (GC) is one of most common malignancies and ranks the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. The cascade of GC progress develops through chronic gastritis, atrophy, intestinal metaplasia (IM) and intraepithelial neoplasia (IN) before eventually evolving to GC. Gastric IM and IN are precancerous lesions that trigger at least 10-fold increase in the risk of developing GC. Studies have shown that both genetic and epigenetic alterations contribute to gastric carcinogenesis. The transcriptional silencing of tumor-suppressor genes (TSGs) through aberrant DNA methylation is thought to be a key epigenetic event in the origin of various cancers.

A study led by Dr. Shujie Chen at the Zhejiang University in China investigated the value of aberrant DNA methylation of several cancer-related genes in plasma as non-invasive biomarkers for GC and precancerous lesions. Researchers discovered that the methylation rate of ZIC1, HOXD10 and RUNX3 increased significantly in the progression of gastric carcinogenesis. Methylation of ZIC1 was associated with positive serum CA19-9, while that of HOXD10 was related to H. pylori status, serum CA19-9 and CEA levels and tumour invasion depth.

The findings demonstrate that combined assays of detecting plasma ZIC1, HOXD10 and RUNX3 methylation may be of great assistance in early detection of GC and in risk evaluation of high-risk populations.

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