We know how important it is to get colorectal cancer screenings, but they rank up next to taxes on the fun factor. In fact, we’d much rather have our doc run our blood or fecal sample through the new methyl-BEAMing (Beads, Emulsion, Amplification and Magnetics) technology developed by the DNA gurus of Vogelstein et al. at Hopkins Med (and other international research centers). Their digital quantification sure beats the other kind of digital interrogation, if you catch our drift.
They don’t say if methyl-BEAMing will replace endoscopy as an initial screening tool, but it beats a lot of the other colorectal blood and fecal tests out there. And because methyl-BEAMing detects rare methylation events (1 copy in 1000!) and can be tailored to detect any methylated sequence, the future applications are endless.
Check out highlights of the methyl-BEAMing technique:
- Perform optimized bisulfite conversion
- Amplify target genes (in this case, vimentin exon 1)
- Do digital PCR in nanocompartments, where amplicons get stuck to beads
- Analyze with methyl-specific probes and flow cytometry
Or you can substitute pricier next-gen sequencing for the digital PCR and flow cytometry. Either way, sensitivity and specificity are high.
Catch the details at Nature Biotechnology, August 2009