Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 28 : Exposure to fungal product, called aflatoxin, is believed to cause up to 80 percent of liver cancer cases in many parts of the world.
A new study by MIT researchers have developed a way to determine, by sequencing DNA of liver cells, whether those cells have been exposed to aflatoxin.
This profile of mutations could be used to predict whether someone has a high risk of developing liver cancer, potentially many years before tumours actually appear.
"What we're doing is creating a fingerprint," said John Essigmann, the William R. and Betsy P. Leitch Professor of Biological Engineering and Chemistry at MIT. "It's really a measure of prior exposure to something that causes cancer." This approach could also be used to generate profiles for other common carcinogens, said Essigmann, who is the senior author of a paper describing the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.