Welcome to the mCRC Biomarkers website. Here you can find out information on RAS status as a biomarker, the testing procedure, the timeline of discovery of RAS as well as opinions from leading experts. You can also read and download a selection of published literature on the science of RAS and personalized therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer.
Metastatic colorectal cancer
Cancers can develop and grow in any tissue or organ in the body. When a cancer spreads to other places in the body, the process is called metastasis. If this process occurs in colorectal cancer, it is called metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).
Mutations in tumor cells
Sometimes spontaneous changes called mutations can occur in the DNA that makes up genes. Mutations can change the instructions in genes, which may then cause them to make abnormal proteins.
The RAS genes, including KRAS and NRAS, give instructions to a cell on how to make RAS proteins. These RAS proteins act as an on-off switch for the ‘grow and divide’ signal in cells. In a tumor cell that carries mutated RAS genes, the abnormal proteins they make can be responsible for helping the tumor to grow.
RAS gene status as a biomarker
Research shows that some anti-cancer treatments are not effective in tumors that carry RAS gene mutations. By testing for this mutation in patients with mCRC, physicians can determine whether the tumor carries a RAS mutation and, as a result, whether a particular treatment is likely to be effective. This is an example of a biomarker.
Until recently, only specific points on the KRAS gene were usually analyzed in patients with mCRC. Recent research suggests that the NRAS gene and other areas of the KRAS gene may provide information to further improve the identification of those patients likely to respond best to particular treatments.