Latest study by NUS researchers first to demonstrate that editing of protein-making sequences promotes development of the disease
Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (ESCC), the major histological form of esophageal cancer, is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered a biomarker, called adenosine deaminase acting on RNA-1 (ADAR1), which has the potential to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of this disease.
Led by Dr Polly Chen from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at NUS, the team is also the first to demonstrate that the editing of protein-making sequences promotes the development of ESCC. This novel study was first published online in Cancer Research on 4 December 2013.
Currently, there is poor prognosis for ESCC patients and the five-year overall survival rate ranges from 20 to 30 per cent. As such, there is an urgent need for biomarkers which can diagnose this disease as early as possible, estimate reaction to chemotherapy or radiotherapy in patients and predict the overall survival rate of patients undergoing treatment.
How ADAR1 serves as a biomarker
In normal human cells, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which comprises the genetic code, serves as a template for the precise production of ribonucleic acid (RNA) such that the DNA code and RNA code are identical. Editing is a process in which RNA is changed after it is made from DNA, resulting in an altered gene product. This RNA editing is likely to play a role in the formation of tumours by either inactivating a tumour suppressor or activating genes that promote tumour progression.