Monitoring colon health and transformation into a diseased tissue, including inflammation and cancer, is difficult using conventional techniques, as individuals are required to undergo invasive procedures. However, by using exfoliated cells, it is possible to characterize the overall health of the colon by monitoring patterns of gene expression.

Genes have been identified that can be used to facilitate routine monitoring of healthy populations, more frequent monitoring of patients predisposed to inflammatory diseases or cancer, and to closely follow those patients undergoing radiation therapy that may involve intestinal exposures. The invention is the names of genes capable of identifying changes in disease state and responses to external stimuli, including diet and radiation exposure.

The goal is to facilitate the reduction in the morbidity and mortality caused by colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases, and to offer greater tracking efficiency of secondary cancers of the colon caused by radiation therapy.

This work was done by Joanne R. Lupton, Nancy D. Turner, Youngmi Cho, and Hyemee Kim of Texas A&M University for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-24835-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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