ExamIning the diagnostic and functional role of a novel DNA meThylation signaturE in predicting ColoRectAl Cancer meTastasis - “INTERACT”

Ongoing scientific/clinical efforts have drastically improved survival rates (60-80%) of patients with early stage bowel (Colorectal) cancer. However, only 14% of advanced (stage 4) bowel cancer patients survive post-5 years of diagnosis. Currently, there are no effective approaches that can predict if a patient’s bowel cancer will worsen, resulting in disease spread to other organs. Moreover, inability to predict if the cancer will get worse, also causes patients to be treated with drugs that might not be effective and unfortunately lead to unpleasant side-effects.

Using sample tumours from stage 4 bowel cancer patients, our research group has discovered that it may be possible to predict if bowel cancer will spread. We found hundreds of sites on DNA (DNA signature) from these tumours that have changes at molecular level known as ‘DNA methylation’. This change alters the message that the DNA encodes, leading to a sudden turning on or off of genes and we suggest that this DNA signature can be used to predict disease spread in bowel cancer patients at an early stage of their disease.

This research project brings together a highly dynamic team of expert cancer researchers, consultant oncologist and a patient/public advisory group to investigate if this newly discovered DNA signature can predict the worsening of bowel cancer in early stage cancer patients, using DNA from tumours and blood samples from bowel cancer patients. In addition, we will also study if new treatment options that target sites within this DNA signature can be developed for advanced stage bowel cancer patients. Data generated from this project will allow us to further develop this DNA signature as a test that can potentially be carried out using a blood sample and may lead to early prediction of worsening of bowel cancer and therefore improving patient health and quality of life.

Award Date
01 July 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Sudipto Das
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Investigator Led Projects