Investigators with Baylor Research Institute, a research arm of Baylor Scott & White Health, have opened participation for a new clinical trial that could determine whether a certain blood test can detect colon cancer before it even develops. Early results of the test, which screens for cancer-related microRNA in a person's blood, appeared positive, as published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. On the heels of those promising findings, researchers are now seeking 400 healthy and treatment-naïve colon or rectal cancer diagnosed participants to measure this non-invasive blood test.
Led by principal investigator Richard Boland, MD, of Baylor University Medical Center's Division of Gastroenterology, the research explores whether the blood test (which detects the cancer-related biomarker serum miR-21), performed in tandem with regular colonoscopies, can identify patients at high risk for colorectal cancer.
Currently, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Among those patients diagnosed with colorectal cancers, half are diagnosed at advanced stages. Fewer than 50 percent of Americans undergo screening for colorectal cancer, typically through a standard colonoscopy procedure.
"Our aim is to improve those sobering statistics and to make available more convenient screening options," Dr. Boland said. "We're encouraged by the initial results and are optimistic that measuring levels of miR-21 in the blood can help identify not only cancer tumors, but also cancer risks."
To proceed with the research, investigators have asked for 200 healthy volunteers (who are due for a colonoscopy) and 200 patients diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer who have not undergone chemotherapy or radiation. Upon enrollment in the study, the research coordinator will collect a blood sample prior to the colonoscopy procedure for all participants.
Baylor Research Institute