Gene find raises hopes of new treatment for bowel cancer

May 04, 2003

A significant breakthrough by scientists at Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh will enable new drugs to be developed, which could prevent bowel cancer.

Researchers led by Professor Adrian Bird at Edinburgh and Professor Alan Clarke at Cardiff have discovered a gene, called MBD2, which is essential for bowel cancer cells to grow, but is dispensable in normal cells. The findings of the research, funded in part by the Wellcome Trust and published in the journal Nature Genetics, raise the possibility that drugs which inactivate MBD2 could prevent human bowel cancer without harming normal cells. Bowel cancer is the UK's second most common cause of cancer death, after lung cancer.

Cancer is caused by cells that escape the body's controls and multiply aggressively to make a tumour. Most anti-tumour therapies attack these multiplying cells, but in doing so they also kill normal cells, such as skin cells and blood that must be able to multiply in any healthy person.

The new findings show that MBD2 is needed much more by tumour cells than by healthy cells and may therefore represent a medical Achilles' heel for this type of cancer. As yet there are no anti-MBD2 drugs, but there is now a strong case for developing them as potential anti-cancer agents.

Professor Clarke, of Cardiff University's School of Biosciences, said: "Our research provides a significant breakthrough in understanding the pathways that can lead to bowel cancer. Cancer is primarily caused by irrevocable alterations to genes, called mutations. Recent work has revealed, however, that some key genes in cancer cells are altered in more subtle ways that are potentially reversible.

"The new findings reinforce this idea, as MBD2 is known to silence genes that have no mutations in them. It now seems that colorectal cancer depends on this kind of gene silencing, whereas normal tissues can remain healthy without it. The exciting possibility is therefore that colon cancer will be treatable by drugs that interfere with the gene silencing process by targeting MBD2."

Cardiff University

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to