Scientists have developed a novel biomarker that could help predict a person’s risk of developing colon cancer at the University of Cincinnati. “Hotspots” has been identified which play a critical role in regulating gene expression and influence colon cancer progression. Researchers consider that these hotspots could be used as a biomarker for colon cancer. AMACR is the first study to explain how a gene is regulated in relation to cancer development and to identify specific genetic events (a polymorphism and somatic cell mutations) related to colon cancer. UC researchers looked at the actions of the AMACR gene in human tissue in this study. AMACR breaks down branched-chain fatty acids, a type of molecule only found in animals that eat plants. Previous research showed that plant-derived fatty acids, such as those found in red meat and dairy products, can accelerate cancer growth. AMACR gene’s abnormal expression patterns using a sophisticated laser-capture microdissection technique identifies the key biological events that lead to colon cancer progression, analyzed by UC researchers. They also compared gene sequencing data from the general population—obtained from whole blood samples—to that of the human colon cancer tissue samples. Researchers also identified specific proteins (transcription factors) that would normally bind to the deleted sequences to maintain normal gene expression, in addition to discovering the hotspots that trigger abnormal AMACR expression. The project is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and US Army Prostate Cancer Program and UC research team expects to expand this research into a multi-center study in the near future.