1. We had a chance to attend the medical tourism conference, “Thailand: a Paradise for Longevity” at the Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Showcase 2017 organized by TAT recently and discovered FEMTO, the DNA laboratory. Can you please tell us more about this lab’s capabilities and the cutting edge technology that it provides?
My lab is the only private lab in Thailand where scientists continuously conduct research and development(R&D) to provide new research-based DNA tests for more a decade. After, a few years of R&D on Plasma DNA analysis (currently known as liquid biopsy assay), we launched the first service on Plasma DNA tests in January 2009. Now Femto Lab©is the only one lab in Asia which provides Plasma DNA tests identifying young cancer cells in non-sick asymptomatic individuals and also search for emerging new cancer cells or residual cancer cells in cured cancer patients. Upon replacing invasive tissue blocks technique with non-invasive Plasma DNA technique using just blood samples, we never use tissue blocks to identify drug targets in cancer patients who need targeted therapy since 2009.
Figure 1. Plasma DNA detected in bloodstream was DNA derived from young cancer cells hiding in patient’s body (1). Due to cells undergoing apoptosis or necrosis by any cause (2), plasma DNA will be released to the bloodstream and detected by our Plasma DNA tests. Therefore, Plasma DNA represents young cancer cells DNA which helps monitoring and guiding intervention.
This year 2017, my lab is the only commercial lab in the world which can detect and identify microbial DNA insertion in human genome, using a tumor suppressor gene TP53 (p53) as a sensor gene. These new services are “Plasma Microbiome©” and “Gut Microbiome©”. Once microbial DNAs are identified either in any non-sick asymptomatic individuals or cancer patients, simple prevention or treatment can get started. Probiotics, prebiotics, natural extracts, and/or plant extracts, targeting specifically at the infectious microbial agents, can be used to boost the body immune and thus remove those cancer cells efficiently, especially in
cases with early diagnosis. Antiviral, antibiotics, antifungal, and parasiticides can be clinically prescribed in case of patients with serious microbial DNA insertion.
2. Who does the actual DNA testing? And how does the patient benefit from DNA testing?
Femto Lab© team is currently consisted of 4 leading scientists (2 biochemists and 2 Biotechnologists), who takes care of our R&D. We are experienced researchers in the field of human genetics, biotechnology, and biochemistry. I, the founder “Dr. Klaiupsorn”, have been working as R&D director. Our Plasma DNA (and Plasma RNA) tests have been initially developed as the assays to identify cancer patients who either response or resist targeted drugs using the DNA and/or RNA molecular markers.
Most importantly, some molecular markers, the tumor suppressor TP53 (p53) gene marker in particular, can help identify those cancer patients who may not benefit treatment with some chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation. Plasma DNA analysis has been considered as non-invasive assay for cancer patients because it needs a few millimeter(ml) of blood sample (or other body fluid).
3. Can you tell us about the Microbial Mechanisms of Oncogenesis and Tumor Suppression?
The Microbial Mechanisms of Oncogenesis and Tumor Suppression is currently an active area of cancer research worldwide. In 2007, the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was listed on the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The HMP has been run as a 5-year project (2008-2012), aimed at identifying and characterizing the microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi) which are found in association with both healthy and diseased humans.
Figure 2. Human Microbiome Project uncovered specific microbial profile pattern in each part of human body.
Viral oncogenesis is through their genetic capability to reprogram host cellular signaling pathways that control proliferation, differentiation, cell death, genomic integrity, and recognition by the immune system. Whereas the important mechanisms by which bacterial agents may induce carcinogenesis include chronic infection, immune evasion and immune suppression, including double-strand breaks of DNA and thus chromosome instability. Bacteria may also promote cancer through direct effects on cell transformation or through the production of toxic, carcinogenic metabolites. The proposed mechanisms of carcinogenesis (thus leading to oncogenesis) in parasitic infection are inflammation, oxidative stress caused by parasite-derived molecules, cell proliferation, and genomic translocation. Fungi (Mycobiome) are also integral components of the human microbiome which has received less attention than the bacterial microbiome counterpart. Fungi and the mycotoxins (the most carcinogenic substances known to science) they produce impacts our genetic code, causing alterations that are found in a majority of cancers. Fungi and their mycotoxins manipulate their hosts on the cellular level, and prevent us from defending ourselves by subverting the immune system. As one example of genetic alteration, a well-known aflatoxin B1 causes a break in DNA that alters the p53 tumor suppression gene. Changes in this particular gene allow the cell to proliferate out of control. So, it’s no accident that this same mycotoxin can also go on to cause liver cancer.
In contrast to microbial induced oncogenesis, tumor suppression was also found contributed by microbiota. Metabolites and endotoxins, such as butyrate and binary toxic, produced by good microbes (aka. Probiotics) were found to suppress inflammation and be cytotoxic to cancer cells. Harmless microbes could help preventing oncogenesis indirectly by competitive exclusion of pathogenic bacteria.
Can you tell us more about your lab’s innovation that is capable of detecting and identifying microbiomes inserted into the human genome?
Whatever mechanisms those microbial agents ever get involved, oncogenesis or tumorigenesis can be observed as somatic mutations in human tumor suppressor genes and/or oncogenes. Previous study on human genome sequencing revealed lateral gene transfer of bacterial DNA to human genes. More importantly, tumor tissue DNA was more frequently inserted by bacterial DNA than normal tissue DNA. These evidences clearly suggest that microbial infection can cause somatic mutations due to their capability to insert their DNA into human genome, and hence causing somatic mutations.
Figure 3. Lateral gene transfer was evidenced exclusively in tumor cells of human genome sequencing.
The tumor suppressor gene TP53 (p53) suppresses tumor by fixing damaged (somatic) DNA or killing the mutant cells via apoptosis (Program Cell Death pathway) if the DNA damage is too severe. The tumor suppressor gene TP53 (p53) also functions as a sensor gene. Recently, bacterial deactivation of p53 (TP53) during infection has been observed and reported. Such inactivation impedes the protective response of the host cell to the genotoxicity that often results from bacterial infection. It is of particular interest that degradation of p53 is crucial for the bacterial infection process, delaying host cell death and providing sufficient metabolic support to facilitate bacterial growth.
Figure 4. Bacterial pathogens induced p53 degradation was thought to cause somatic mutations which leads to microbial induced carcinogenesis.
Femto Lab© R&D has been working on the TP53 (p53) gene for a decade, using it as a DNA tumor marker (in blood sample) to identify cancer patients who might not benefit some chemotherapeutic drugs and radiotherapy. As well as using it to identify young cancer cells (Plasma DNA) in non-sick asymptomatic individuals. With some technical modifications, after 3 years of R&D, we can now use TP53 (p53) as a sensor gene to identify microbial DNA insertion. Plasma Microbiome© is now launched as our innovation in 2017. From this Plasma Microbiome© analysis, we can directly detect somatic mutation caused by microbial DNA insertion in the TP53 gene using just a few milliliters of blood sample, and without need of microbial culture at all.
Figure 5. An infamous microbial carcinogen, H. pylori, was found inserting its DNA to TP53 gene in Femto Lab©’s Plasma Microbiome© test.
4. In the big picture of Thailand medical tourism, how do you think that FEMTO Lab can +
The Human Genome Project (HGP) is a well-known international thirteen-year life science project that began in October 1990 (1990-2003). The HGP is important because it uses information from DNA to develop new ways to treat, cure, or even prevent the thousands of diseases that afflict humankind.
In the big picture of Thailand medical tourism, Femto Lab© should be among only a few labs in the world that is brave to provide the Personalized-Cancer Research© tests [PCR© Tests] for non-sick asymptomatic individuals, cured-cancer patients, and also for cancer patients. Our tests can partially serve, if not all, those ultimate goals expected after the completion of the HGP, i.e., using DNA or genome data to (1) identify non-sick asymptomatic individuals who might be at risk to develop cancer in the future so that early prevention can be prepared to avoid cancers; (2) identify residual cancer cells or emerging new cancer cells in previously cured patients and thus these patients may be able to avoid cancer recurrence; (3) Identify drug targets for those cancer patients who need targeted therapeutic treatment. Likewise, the HMP has the goal to yield translational opportunities to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality by improving prevention. Our 2017 innovation “Plasma Microbiome©” can directly identify microbial DNA insertion in both non-sick asymptomatic individuals and patients. This Plasma Microbiome© innovation should benefit both non-sick asymptomatic individuals and patients for early prevention and microbiome-targeted treatment (treatment: based on the microbial types observed as DNA insertion in human genome).
Therefore, in the big picture of Thailand medical tourism, Femto Lab© is proud and expects to provide our tests with cutting-edge technology as an international service. Whoever you are or whatever your ethnic is, you can take a medical tourism to Thailand and ask Femto Lab© (or our representatives) to identify your young cancer cells, or search emerging or residual cancer cells, using just a few milliliters of blood sample. After somatic mutations are found either from microbial DNA insertion and/or from other etiologies, prevention can be thus designed so not to get cancer development in non-sick healthy individuals and also to avoid cancer recurrence in cured patients. Globally, about 57% of cancer patients are diagnosed at stage IV and 5-year survival of these patients after chemotherapy is approximately 4%. Our Plasma DNA tests are highly sensitive, by our cutting-edge protocols we can see young cancer cells or new emerging cancer cells in the human body many years before the stage I (Zero Plus©) cancer gets started. Based on our Plasma DNA information at this Zero Plus© stage, plan and action* can be designed for early personalized prevention to avoid cancers. *[lifestyle changes, supplements and environment adjustment, targeted at the etiologies and microbial infections]
From our comprehensive Plasma DNA (and Plasma RNA) research service, healthy longevity is no more just a theoretical concept. Anyone can expect to reach the goal of healthy longevity by redirecting his/her own personal life guided by his/her own personalized health index data obtained from our hi-end research-based service.