A clinical study conducted by German researchers at the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, has demonstrated the use of metastasis-associated in colon cancer 1 (MACC1) genetic test for prognosis of colon cancer.

The research was based on the opinion that the prediction of prognosis in early-stage colon cancer patients using specific genetic tests can aid in the determination of precise chemotherapy.

Researchers identified two biomarkers, MACC1 gene and defective DNA mismatch repair (dMMR) system, involved with the disease.

Increased levels of the MACC1 gene are said to result in aggressive tumour growth and metastasis development, while dMMR is found to occur in tumour formation.

Patients carrying dMMR tumours with low MACC1 gene activity are believed to have longer life expectancy.

The study, which enrolled 600 stage II patients with locally aggressive tumours without metastases, showed that the MACC1 genetic test can aid in distinguishing patients with defective repair mechanisms.

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"It helps with the difficult decision of whether early-stage patients should receive chemotherapy."

Prognosis was found to be positive for subjects with low MACC1 gene expression or with defective repair mechanisms, indicating 100% five-year survival rate.

The MACC1 gene activity monitoring in early-stage colon cancer patients is also intended to recommend a course of treatment and to assist in predicting the response to chemotherapy.

In 2009, Ulrike Stein and her colleagues at MDC identified the MACC1 gene that currently has a specific blood test available for its identification.

Stein said: “The blood test can indicate whether there is a higher risk of the tumour returning or metastasising.

“It helps with the difficult decision of whether early-stage patients should receive chemotherapy.”

The blood test is now extended for stage II patients with impaired DNA repair mechanisms.