Tumor markers derived from nucleic acid components.

E. Borek, T. P. Waalkes, C. W. Gehrke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


It was known for some time that cancer patients excrete in their urine elevated levels of modified nucleosides. From earlier work, we were able to show that most of these modified nucleosides originate from transfer RNA (tRNA). The modifications are achieved at the macromolecular level by enzymes after primary synthesis. Such modifications are highly specific and, therefore, when the modified nucleosides accumulate from the tRNA breakdown, they cannot be reinserted randomly by the polymerases and must be excreted. We found that the modifying enzymes are aberrantly hyperactive in every malignant tissue. We also found that there is abnormally high turnover of tRNA in malignant tissues, which is probably the source of the elevated levels of excretion products. Since these products originate from a cardinal component of the molecular biology of every cell, the determination of markers in the urine may be a universal indicator of malignancy. We are focusing on the use of these markers in syndromes whose diagnoses are otherwise difficult. Since the marker levels return to normal very soon after chemotherapy, such determinations can be used to monitor the effectiveness of therapy. Therefore, the clinical oncologists can adapt their protocols to the specific need of a patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-71
Number of pages5
JournalCancer detection and prevention
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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