Molecular tools for detecting cancer

Cancer cells grow and die much faster than normal cells, and when they die, DNA, RNA, proteins and several metabolites are shed into the blood system. Even live cancer cells shed cellular material into the blood.

Since we can recognize and identify the signatures of these cancer cells, we can look for those signals in the blood to allow us to detect cancers early. Instead of waiting for cancers to be large enough to cause symptoms, or for them to be dense enough to show up on imaging, we can start looking for cancers while they are relatively small.  

DNA Methylation

DNA methylation is a process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule. Methylation can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence. In many disease processes, including cancer, genes acquire abnormal
hypermethylation, which results in silencing.

Enrich Bioscience’s test entails the detection of DNA methylation, which has been recognized as an important component of cancer development. DNA methylation is present in our healthy cell DNA, and each tissue cell has the unique pattern in a differentiated cell. In cancer cells, however, these markings are skewed, and each cancer type gains a different pattern.

Compared to proteins and RNA, DNA is stable, and we can work with a small amount of sample material. Patterns of DNA methylation are characteristics for particular cancer types and above all, cancer DNA can be positively selected and analyzed from an ocean of healthy DNA.  This is critically important because in the bloodstream the amount of cancerous DNA is minuscule compared to healthy DNA.