Cancer is regarded as the disease of the 21st century as its incidence has been increasing during the last years. There is also a growing concern about this disease as there is still no specific cause and therefore there is no curative treatment. Will telomeres have a say in this context?
Although the innovation in treatments has been increasing, the resources are still limited. This is why there is a constant search for alternatives to reduce diagnostics costs.
One of these alternatives is the search for new biomarkers. Cancer biomarkers usually have many different functions:
- Diagnostic: they can identify cancer cells
- Prognostic: they indicate the tumour aggressiveness
- Treatment predictive response: they can give an determinate if the patient will or will not respond to the treatment
Nowadays, there are many well-known biomarkers that physicians use in their daily clinical practice. Telomere length is a potential tumor biomarker that has raised awareness. It is known that tumours have altered the synthesis of this part of DNA, however, the cause has not been found yet.
Several universities, hospitals and research centres have been trying to find the link between cancer and telomeres. One of them is CNIO (Spanish National Cancer Research Centre) that has been conducting research in this field for long time. Additionally, Life Length has set its sights on the clinical validation of its Telomere Analysis Technology® (TAT®) test as a simple blood test for early diagnosis, prognosis and response to treatment in the context of cancer, with a €3.1m Phase II grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme under the project name ONCOCHECK.
Nevertheless, there is still much to discover in context of cancer biomarkers.