Journal of Undergraduate Research


gene-expression patterns, rare colon cancer syndromes, early diagnosis, treatment options


Life Sciences




Colon cancer often runs in families. Individuals in these families have a relatively high lifetime risk of developing colon cancer and often develop aggressive tumors at a relatively young age. Currently, genetic testing is the standard way to diagnose hereditary colon cancer; however, many people who develop hereditary colon tumors do not have a mutation in the tested genes. Thus a better diagnostic approach, as well as a better understanding of how to target the underlying molecular causes of hereditary colon cancer, are needed.

Individuals who have a potentially high hereditary risk for colon cancer sometimes do not receive a genetic diagnosis due to technical limitations or simply because the individuals do not carry mutations in genes known to cause colon cancer. Our approach bypasses this inherited-gene testing in favor of identifying active gene-expression patterns for colon cancer syndromes and checking for matching patterns in individuals who are possibly at risk. These identified patterns will indicate actual precancerous activity and overall risk regardless of the inherited reason. We believe this may allow a more reliable and inexpensive diagnosis, and potential treatment that targets the underlying biological causes of tumor development.

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