바이오스펙테이터 Kim Sungmin 기자
There are many analytic service companies that provide risk of cancer or such indicators as low or high risk group through genetic analysis. However, this risk does not mean point to specific risks. It just says some cancer is likely.
Imagine, when the weather service forecast 70% chance of rain, it hasn't rained and you have carried your umbrella all day in a sultry weather at 35 degrees Celsius just in case. How stressful it must be!
Genomictree operates in the market for accurate early cancer diagnosis which goes beyond just cancer risk by opting out of genetic information and focusing on epigenetic marks that register higher accuracy. Genomictree got its blood-based colorectal cancer diagnosis kit approved by Ministry of Drug and Food Safety in 2014. Currently, the company is expanding its targets to include colorectal cancer (feces), bladder cancer, and lung cancer.
In his recent interview with Biospectator, CEO Ahn Seong-hwan of Genomictree said, "While colorectal cancer can be fairly prevented with early diagnosis, most patients are reluctant to have endoscopy," and added, "So, we decided to create an accurate early cancer diagnosis program." What enabled Genomictree to come up with a product that boasts excellent effectiveness was the epigenetic marks that the company discovered with its own technology.
◇Epigenetics as software that controls genes
There is a method that uses an individual's DNA sequencing to measure the person's susceptibility to specific types of cancer. For instance, suppose that a person has come up with 80% of cancer risk from a DNA test. This figure is the probability calculated from the DNA sequencing that is thought to be related to cancer development through its comparison of the genetic sequencing found in ordinary people and those who had cancer.
After all, this 80% indicates vulnerability to a disease, and does not mean actual likelihood to contract the disease. Such a value may vary according to the environmental factors such as food life and habits. When genetic information is already fixed, what could change?
And our body is composed of about 200 types of cells, and if you think of skin cells, muscle cells, and nerve cells, you can see how they vary in shape and use. So, why such variation?
DNA does not change and is stably stored in the nucleus. Different cells may be compared to a protein factory that endlessly manufactures proteins required to maintain life. And when certain proteins are needed, it accesses DNA sequencing that has design data and untie the knot of two strands to recognize its genetic information before it develops proteins. But it is not easy to access DNA.
For DNA in cells, you will think about two long strands of bases, but in fact, DNA has clusters of chemical functional groups and proteins attached to long strands. Epigenetics refer to all the changes that cling to such unchanging DNA. And they work to inhibi...