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Reliable and specific urinary biomarkers for colorectal cancer

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COLOVOC (Reliable and specific urinary biomarkers for colorectal cancer)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2021-06-30

When you pee, you can easily know when you eat something specific, like asparagus. It was also by smelling urine that antic physicians could determine diabetes disease. We know urine can contain compounds specifics of food and disease. But it is complicated to determine which ones are specific to a particular disease. Therefore, we use advanced analytical techniques to analyze the urine and determine which compounds, the metabolites, are biomarkers of a disease. In the COLOVOC project, we analyze both the smell (volatiles) and the ‘flavor’ (liquid) of urine with mass spectrometry techniques. We have the aim of determining which metabolites are specific of colorectal cancer (CRC). Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most frequent neoplasia, after breast cancer in women and lung cancer in men. It is the most malignant digestive neoplasia in the western world, with a higher incidence than all other tumours combined. It is estimated that in a standard population, compliance with CRC screening is only ~30-50%. The main aim of the COLOVOC project is to identify new biomarkers and/or validate proposed ones and explore colorectal cancer diagnosis using metabolites found in urine. With a long-term aim to improve the CRC screening programs and reduce the burden of the health systems widely affected by the pandemic.
A comprehensive metabolomics urine study has been done for the first time with both volatile and liquid fractions of urine for CRC. We have analyzed by mass spectrometry (MNS) either with gas chromatography (GC-MS, GCxGC-MS), and liquid chromatography (LC-MS) over 200 urine samples from a CRC screening program. Big part of the work has been the learning of new analytical techniques by the researcher fellow at UC Davis, in US. Even though the project has been affected by the pandemic, we have finalized the samples analysis during the outgoing phase. During the lock-down periods in which we could not do laboratory work, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of CRC markers in urine reported so far for volatiles (volatilomics) and metabolites (metabolomics).
Found biomarkers will be classified in 3 categories: 1) diagnostic biomarkers of CRC and/or CRC stage-specific biomarkers; 2) biomarkers of adenomatous polyps detection; and 3) healthy human biomarkers. Robust biomarkers would be obtained as they would be validated at least twice, by two independent cohorts, and in 2-independent laboratory facilities. Expected results would be to find a new and robust panel of compound to improve the CRC detection by screening programs, and reduce the burden of the health systems widely affected by the pandemic. We also have the expected output of the evaluation of the creation of a CRC test (at-home kit) for the general public.