Researchers identify potential gastric cancer biomarker

New York, Dec 21 (IANS) Researchers have identified a protein that could be a potential biomarker for gastric cancer, enabling earlier diagnoses and paving the way for an effective new treatment for the deadly disease.

Gastric cancer kills around 700,000 people worldwide each year, second only to lung cancer.

“Gastric cancer is the second deadliest in the world – we need new approaches,” said one of the researchers Andrew Schally, Professor at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in the US.

The hormone receptor GHRH-R could be a potential biomarker for gastric cancer, the study said.

“The GHRH receptor is both a biomarker that can confirm prognosis and a therapeutic target,” Schally said.

The researchers studied nearly 1,000 tumours from patients in China and other parts of the world.

They linked the prevalence of GHRH receptors with larger, more aggressive tumours and lower overall survival.

“We found that measuring GHRH receptor overexpression could be very useful, both for prognosis and identifying the stage of the cancer,” Schally said.

The GHRH receptor also offers a potential therapeutic target. The receptor helps drive the aberrant growth associated with gastric and other cancers.

Schally and his collaborators have been working for many years to develop an inhibitor that will reduce or eliminate these signals, culminating in the peptide drug candidate MIA-602.

In the study — published in the journal PNAS — the compound was found to inhibit gastric cancer growth in cell lines and human tumor xenografts, decreasing both tumour size and weight.