Article: UGA researchers develop non-invasive early diagnostic test for gastric cancer
Author: Kirk McAlpin
Date: April 26, 2011
In the article, McAlpin talks about a medical advancement which in the near future may see cancer detected easily at its early stages. He states that this development is in line with a new research by the University of Georgia. Studies carried out established that this killer disease could be detected by analysis of urinal excretions for certain proteins. They also support what according to the National Research Council (1989) is the long recognized impact of biological researches on health care (p. 323).
The initial motive for launching the research was to focus only on stomach cancer but there later occurred other developments. Not only can this help diagnose gastric cancer, McAlpin’s sources claim that several cancer types and other diseases could be found. This could be one of the most important developments in the field of medicine that would help save thousands of lives.
The researchers involved in the study included Xu, Juan Cui and David Puett, who belonged to the Institute of Bioinformatics. In their research, they explained that protein differences in the content of urinal excretions between healthy people and cancer patients exist. Specifically, a protein by the name endothelial lipase was identified as one showing differences between the two individuals.
According to Xu, the major contributor to this breakthrough was the ability to predict which of the proteins in affected tissues would be contained in urine. To test the amount of accuracy, samples were obtained from both excretory and non-excretory proteins. The outcome showed the classifications to be over 80 percent accurate.
McAlpin continues to give an analysis of the sample group obtained which consisted of cancer patients and cancer-free individuals. Although the 21 sample size was small, a valid suggestion was made that the protein ought to be present in the urine of healthy people (Para 6). Another study involving a bigger sample of cancer patients and healthy people is being conducted (Para. 7). Xu reports that if the two studies show similar results, then he is hoping that they will have found a reliable way to diagnose stomach cancer and probably other cancer types.
The presence of the protein is said to be established in a manner similar to that used in testing pregnancies. In other words, color change on a paper piece could tell the presence of the protein. Even though this may not bear 100 percent accuracy, it can be a better alternative compared to other procedures in use. If one notices absence of the protein, he ought to go for a cancer test.
The article explains the procedure followed by the researchers to classify the proteins and establish which of them are contained in urine. Using microarrays-chips which contain human genes, they established the list of proteins in urine that could help detect cancer (Para. 11). This research has been the collaborative efforts of two teams who make up the Jilin University/University of Georgia Joint Research Center for Systems Biology.
The article’s relevance is that it shows how biology has contributed to the above mentioned advancements in the medical field. According to the National Research Council (1989), “the long and successful overlap of all areas of biology makes it impossible to separate their relative contribution to the development of medical and pharmaceutical products”. It is evident from the cancer related research that the biology knowledge has contributed to such developments which are considered medically beneficial.
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