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New Drug Treatment Deactivates Colon Cancer

Harold Mandel's picture
Cancer researcher

Toronto University researchers are reporting an exciting news about colon cancer treatment. They have shown that hitting the gene of self-renewal machinery may be able to knock out colorectal cancer. The researchers doing this type of space age technology makes us think of a dynamic role by Tom Cruise as a scientist, and this is as real as Cruise makes his roles out to be. Yes, it appears the future is here in the fight to knock out colorectal cancer, and this has come from a group of dedicated cancer researchers at Toronto University.

Researchers at Stanford University Cancer Institute have also been doing research in the area of cancer stem cells. They too have been interested in discovering new therapeutic targets which can be exploited to develop novel and more effective cancer treatments. Stanford researchers have been investigating potential pathways which are critical for self renewal, spread and survival of normal and cancer stem cells.

Stem cells regenerate themselves via the critical process of self-renewal. It has been recognized by these researchers that in the absence of cancer stem cell self-renewal, tumor growth would eventually completely cease. A search for differences in self-renewal pathways in normal and malignant stem cells has been pursued to enable the elimination of cancer stem cells. The discovery of cancer stem cells has had significant implications for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of cancer. Screening for colorectal cancer also offers hope to help with treatment. A blood test may give early warning of colorectal cancer, writes EmaxHealth reporter Deborah Mitchell.

Targeting self-renewal machinery provides the basis for a new therapeutic approach in the treatment of colorectal cancer, according to a research paper in Nature Medicine. Tumor recurrence after treatment is a major clinical challenge, and so this research is highly significant. Consider that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer associated death in the western world.

Princess Margaret Cancer Center researchers are now reporting a new discovery of dynamically treating colorectal cancer. The scientists and surgeons at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have discovered this promising new approach to treating colorectal cancer via the use of stem cell technology. What they have come up with is that by disarming the gene which drives self-renewal in stem cells which are the root cause of disease, resistance to treatment and relapse, results are good.

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Principal investigator Dr. John Dick has commented, "This is the first step toward clinically applying the principles of cancer stem cell biology to control cancer growth and advance the development of durable cures." Dr Dick was a pioneer in cancer stem cell research when he first identified leukemia stem cells in 1994 and colon cancer stem cells in 2007. He has also isolated a human blood stem cell in a pure form which as a single stem cell has the capacity to regenerate the entire blood system. This opened the door for the clinical use of stem cells.

These researchers first studied a replication of human colon cancer in mice. Their goal was to determine if specifically targeting the stem cells had any clinical relevance. Initially the researchers identified that the gene BMI-1 is the primary regulator of colon cancer stem cells which drives the cycle of self-renewal, proliferation and cell survival. BMI-1 has already been implicated in maintaining stem cells in other types of cancer. Than the researchers used an existing small-molecule inhibitor to achieve the successful blocking of BMI-1. This cemented the clinical relevance of this innovative approach.

Dr Antonija Kreso, lead author of this research writes, "Inhibiting a recognized regulator of self-renewal is an effective approach to control tumor growth, providing strong evidence for the clinical relevance of self-renewal as a biological process for therapeutic targeting." It was incredible to see that when the BMI-1 pathway was blocked the stem cells could no longer self-renew. What actually happened was the cancer was shut down permanently. And the shut down was found to be irreversible. This has been every cancer researcher's and cancer patient's dream.

Dr Catherine O'Brien, surgeon-scientist and senior co-author of the study, has noted how exciting this research really is because it maps a viable way to actually develop a targeted treatment for colon cancer patients. It has been shown that about 65 percent of colon cancer patients have the BMI-1 biomarker. Now that the target has been identified along with a proven way to tackle it, this knowledge should be able to be translated into first human trials aimed at providing more personalized cancer medicine.

This research should offer new hope for colorectal cancer sufferers and for people afflicted with other types of cancer. Skeptics about the value of stem cell research are now seeing how valuable this can really be. Being positioned to actually kill cancer before it kills you is a dramatic development. However, it should not be forgotten that prevention is still an easier path than treatment for cancer as with other illnesses.

You should try to always eat nutritious meals which include a lot of fruit and vegetables, cut down or abstain from alcohol, do not smoke and stay away from smokers, and get adequate rest and exercise daily. Something as simple and tasty as eating cocoa might help prevent colon cancer, as reported on by EmaxHealth reporter Kathleen Blanchard, RN. Being positioned to hit cancer before it happens and after it strikes may be setting the stage for us to win the war against cancer in this era.