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TMC Researchers Identify a Biomarker for Tongue Cancer

/ August 30, 2017 /

A biomarker is a naturally occurring gene, characteristic, or molecule which helps in identifying particular physiological processes, diseases etc. It is a measurable indicator of the presence or severity of certain diseases. Recently, researchers at Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, have identified a biomarker that will help doctors in deciding whether patients in the early stage of tongue cancer must undergo neck surgery in order to remove around 30 lymph nodes. MMP10 protein, the biomarker, can be identified by means of immunohistochemical analysis—a process used to detect proteins in cells of a tissue section. Patients who test negative for the biomarker need not undergo neck surgery.

Here’s what usually happens in the absence of an authentic biomarker that is able to detect if the disease will recur in patients—doctors routinely remove the affected part of the tongue and lymph nodes of those patients in the early stage of tongue cancer. Taking into consideration this scenario, identification of the biomarker will prove to be of great use in the field of oncology care and treatment.

Source: Wikimedia

With the help of a simple immunohistochemical analysis, doctors can identify the level of the biomarker in patients. Only those who a high level of the MMP10 protein are likely to have cancer spread to their lymph nodes. Hence, presence of higher levels of the biomarker will help doctors in taking a call on which patients actually need to undergo complex surgeries. To validate their current findings, the research team will use a higher sample size for their next trial and evaluation processes.

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