Colorectal Cancer Risk Screening Assay

The Problem

The overall lifetime colorectal cancer risk for Americans is 5.1%, thus screening is recommended for those over the age of 50. Currently, colonoscopies are the standard for monitoring colon cancer development, but are invasive. Therefore, a need exists for a minimally-invasive test that could measure colon cancer risk. Ideally, such a test would offer a straightforward, personalized recommendation on how to substantially reduce colorectal cancer risk. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have identified a test that can characterize colorectal cancer risk and recommend a strategy for risk reduction. Importantly, this test requires only a blood sample and information about a person's diet.

A Solution

The test identifies common variants in two genes, along with an individual's calcium level, to predict the risk of colorectal cancer development and recurrence. In the population with at least one of these gene variants, colorectal cancer risk can be dramatically decreased by calcium supplementation tailored to each individual. Since 52% of the population carries at least one of these variants, supplementation could reduce risk in a large percentage of the population. In individuals with none of these gene variants, supplementation does not provide a benefit. Therefore these individuals would be discouraged from supplementation to avoid unwanted side effects. By defining these gene variants as additional key variables, this research may explain inconsistent findings in previous research that attempted to link calcium intake with colorectal cancer risk.

Stage of Development

The association of colorectal cancer risk and recurrence with these gene variants and calcium status has been verified in two independent patient populations, involving 1,818 cases and 3,992 controls in total. Prospective studies are underway. Vanderbilt University is seeking a partner to develop and promote a molecular diagnostic based upon this technology, which has the potential to broadly improve colorectal cancer screening and prevention efforts.

Inventors: 
Qi DaiWei ZhengMartha ShrubsoleReid NessXiangzhu ZhuTodd EdwardsQiuyin Cai
Licensing manager: 
Mike Villalobos

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