Epigenetic Computer Program ‘CancerLocator’ Detects and Pinpoints Cancer

Epigenetic Computer Program ‘CancerLocator’ Detects and Pinpoints Cancer


Excerpt: "What if instead of invasive cancer tests, scientists could run a blood sample through a computer program and not only detect whether cancer is present or not, but pinpoint where in the body it’s located? This technology, harnessed by a program called CancerLocator, could potentially be ready in a year.

In a recent study published in Genome Biology, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) developed a computer program that identifies specific epigenetic patterns, or a combination of chemical marks on DNA, that are associated with certain cancers. The tool functions by measuring circulating tumor DNA in blood and comparing epigenetic marks to a database.

“Non-invasive diagnosis of cancer is important, as it allows the early diagnosis of cancer, and the earlier the cancer is caught, the higher chance a patient has of beating the disease. We have developed a computer-driven test that can detect cancer, and also identify the type of cancer, from a single blood sample,” said the co-lead author from UCLA, Professor Jasmine Zhou.

“The technology is in its infancy and requires further validation, but the potential benefits to patients are huge,” she added.

DNA from tumor cells can be found in the bloodstream during the earliest stages of cancer and can be a unique target for detecting the disease just as it starts to form. The computer program works by searching for particular epigenetic patterns in cancer DNA, specifically DNA methylation marks, which flow freely in the patients’ blood. These epigenetic signatures, found in what is called circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA), were cross referenced to a database of patterns from different types of cancer which had been collected by the researchers.

“We built a database of epigenetic markers, specifically methylation patterns, which are common across many types of cancer and also specific to cancers originating from specific tissue, such as the lung or liver,” Zhou explained. “We also compiled the same ‘molecular footprint’ for non-cancerous samples so we had a baseline footprint to compare the cancer samples against. These markers can be used to deconvolute the DNA found freely in the blood into tumor DNA and non-tumor DNA.”

The novel computer program was tested alongside two other methods, using a variety of blood samples including those from patients with breast cancer, lung cancer, and liver cancer. The other methods, Random Forest and Support Vector Machine, had a higher error rate of 0.646 and 0.604, respectively, compared to the new program which had a low error rate of 0.265. This means that it was rare for CancerLocator to indicate that a patient had cancer when they actually did not."

My comment: Cancer is not caused by bad luck. The reason for most cancers can be found in epigenetic factors. Disrupted or aberrant methylation profiles and patterns lead to unsuccessful cellular differentiation. This can be caused by oxidative stress due to poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol or toxins. Viruses play also a potential role in causing aberrant methylation patterns. According to a fresh study, more than 1 in 5 adults has cancer-causing HPV infection:


You can keep your epigenome strong, healthy and in balanced state by eating healthy food, doing daily physical exercise in fresh air, avoiding smoking, alcohol and toxins. It is very important for your children and grandchildren because most epigenetic markers and layers are transgenerationally inheritable.


Life is not driven by gene sequences. Genes are driven by lifestyle. Don't get lost.