Gene Variant Associated With Familial Colon Cancer

University Reference Number: U-5056
Web Published: Jul 27, 2011

Invention Summary
Researchers at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute have identified a genetic variant in the MET proto-oncogene predictive of colon cancer risk for individuals with a family history of colon cancer.  Presence of this variant is associated with cancer diagnosis at an average age of 63 years, 8 years earlier than the average age of diagnosis in the general population. Genetic testing for this variant will allow improved assessment of risk for individuals with a history of familial colon cancer.  

Features & Benefits

 - Genetic testing for the MET gene variant, especially for those with a family history of colon cancer, would identify individuals who would most benefit by frequent and early screening.

 - A more comprehensive and widely applicable test could be created by adding the MET gene variant to existing genetic testing panels for evaluating inherited colon cancer risk.

Market Opportunity
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and worldwide, the second leading cause of cancer death, leading to a cost of approximately $14B to the US healthcare system.  It has been estimated that up to 30% of CRC is due to genetic factors.  About 5-8% of colon cancers are associated with well defined genetic syndromes, including hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).  Approximately 20% of additional CRC cases involve patients with a strong family history, consistent with inherited risk, but for whom no genetic marker of risk is available.  

Intellectual Property:  An international patent application was filed in July 2012.

Inventors:  Dr. Deborah Neklason and Dr. Randall Burt, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah

Related Publications:  Neklason, et al; "Activating mutaion in MET oncogen in familial colorectal cancer", BMC Cancer, 2011 11:424

Patent Information:
Licensing Contact:
Beth Drees
Director of Business & Technology Development
University of Utah
Deborah Neklason
Randall Burt