Professor Masaki Yamaguchi of the Bioengineering Course in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, in collaboration with Professor Tomonobu Koizumi of the Department of Comprehensive Cancer Therapy at School of Medicine identified a cytokine (proteins responsible for intercellular communications such as biological defense reactions) that exhibit a large change in concentration depending on the presence and progression of colorectal cancer. The paper, "Plasma cytokine levels and the presence of colorectal cancer", published March 18th in PLoS One summarizes this research . It is also featured in the March 28th edition of The Nikkei, the world's largest financial newspaper under the title; "Shinshu U Research Group: Confirmation of Colorectal Cancer Substances”.

At the forefront of cancer research is the development of painless and inexpensive diagnostic tools that lead to early detection of cancer and exploratory research to deliver cancer treatment to appropriate patients more efficiently. Professor Yamaguchi has been working on the development of technologies to diagnose the presence of diseases from the type, amount and changes in biomarkers. More than 300 types of cytokines have been identified and are involved in the onset and progression of various diseases, and the hope is to determine potential biomarkers. Cancer diagnosis often involves evaluation using a single marker. This research group has previously used saliva as a sample to report combinations of cytokines associated with the presence of lung cancer. In the latest study it was found that the levels of inflammatory cytokines such as IL-9, Eotaxin, G-CSF, and TNF-α change in the blood of patients with colorectal cancer depending on the presence and progression of colorectal cancer. Assessing the values of multiple markers from a small sample is expected to improve the accuracy of the analysis. Professor Yamaguchi says, "For clinical applications, we want to confirm reproducibility in other patient groups and get cooperation from pharmaceutical companies."