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December Specimen Spotlight: Assisting in Vaccine Development for Colorectal Cancer

December 8, 2016

Vaccine

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. Despite its prevalence, most colon cancer is not inherited from previous generations, however it is speculated that about 5% of patients may have inherited genetic risk for developing the condition.

For our December Specimen Spotlight, we highlight the procurement of matched sets of CRC tissue that have tested positive for microsatellite instability (MSI), along with normal adjacent tissue to help a cancer immunotherapy company better understand and develop a treatment for the disease.

MSI is a screening test performed on CRC tissue, and if MSI is high, it’s a sign that the patient’s disease may have been caused by an inherited gene mutation. Cancers that are caused by gene mutations can be passed from one generation of a family to another.

When high MSI is confirmed, the type of CRC may be “hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC),” also known as Lynch syndrome – additional testing on the tumor can be done to determine if this is in fact the case.

It has been found that patients with Lynch Syndrome exhibit a specific immune response in an effort to try to control the cancer, and our client is now working to develop a vaccine to replicate this reaction for therapeutic purposes.

If successful, a vaccine for Lynch Syndrome could be an effective treatment for these types of CRC patients and potentially used for tumor prevention in individuals who carry the genetic mutation. As Lynch Syndrome puts patients at risk of developing several other types of cancer, an early intervention could be the key to ensuring better health outcomes not only for patients diagnosed with CRC, but also for their close relatives.