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Hydrophobic Proteins: Potential Biomarkers For Colorectal Cancer

June 24, 2010

Colorectal cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, is a common cause of mortality worldwide. Statistical data showed that the number of deaths caused by colorectal cancer is increasing in both men and women. Proteins are functional components of the cell that regulate the cell’s activity. Understanding the differential expression of proteins in colorectal cancer and normal tissues will lead to a better understanding of the development of the disease, furthermore, these proteins may serve as biomarkers for treatment or detection of the disease. Hydrophobic proteins play a vital role in various cellular processes, by virtue of their cellular location, and may serve as a target for drug-targeted therapy.

This study, led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gam Lay Harn from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia will be published on June 14, 2010 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. By using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE), the hydrophobic proteins extracted from colorectal cancer tissues were separated according to their pI and MW, subsequently the protein profiles between cancerous and normal tissues were compared. Using this approach, the researchers identified a few differentially expressed proteins that were up-regulated in cancerous tissues. The expression of such proteins was shown to be significantly related to stage and grade of the cancer and also to gender of the patients.

Although the extraction of hydrophobic proteins from tissues poses certain challenges, a combination of protein reagents can be used successfully to extract this group of proteins. Followed by 2D-gel electrophoresis separation and mass spectrometry analysis, the identity of these proteins can be confirmed. The results obtained revealed the differentially expressed proteins between colorectal cancerous and normal tissues. These proteins may indicate the progression of colorectal carcinogenesis. Furthermore, they can potentially be used to design drug targeted therapy for the treatment of colorectal cancer.

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