Novel therapeutic strategy for colon cancer treatment

June 09, 2008

A team of scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), a research institute of the Asian city-state's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and the University of California at San Francisco have developed a pharmacological approach to kill colon cancer cells.

Genetic and epigenetic defects in the signaling of a protein called Wnt/β-catenin, which is often found to be abnormally activated in human malignance, play important roles in colorectal cancer development. The team of scientists identified a gene, called DACT3, whose function is to inhibit Wnt/β-catenin, is often lost (or transcriptionally silenced) in colorectal cancer.

Apart from the findings on DACT3, they have also developed a pharmacological approach to restore the expression of DACT3, which results in the effective inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin massive death of colon cancer cells. Their discovery was published in Cancer Cell on June 9, 2008.

GIS Group Leader, Yu Qiang, Ph.D., said, "This work identifies a significant new regulator of the Wnt/β-catenin avenue for future colorectal cancer research."

Edison Liu, M.D., Executive Director of GIS, added, "This is indeed a very significant discovery. It suggests a novel therapy for colorectal cancer, an important step towards clinical treatment for the disease, which is one of the leading causes of death from tumours."

The team is now working with other A*STAR research institutes and industry partners for the development of potential drug candidates based on this technology.
-end-
Authors of the Cancer Cell paper: Xia Jiang,1,4 Jing Tan,1,4 Jingsong Li,1 Saul Kivimäe,2 Xiaojing Yang,1 Li Zhuang,1 Puay Leng Lee,1 Mark T.W. Chan,1 Lawrence W. Stanton,3 Edison T. Liu,1 Benjamin N.R. Cheyette,2 and Qiang Yu1

1 Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, Genome Institute of Singapore
2 Department of Psychiatry, Graduate Programs in Developmental Biology and Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco
3 Stem Cell and Developmental Biology, Genome Institute of Singapore
4 These authors contributed equally to this work

About GIS

www.gis.a-star.edu.sg

GIS is a national initiative with a global vision that seeks to use genomic sciences to improve public health and public prosperity.

Established in 2001 as a centre for genomic discovery, GIS pursues the integration of technology, genetics and biology towards the goal of individualized medicine. The key research areas at the GIS include systems biology, stem cell & developmental biology, cancer Biology & pharmacology, human genetics, infectious diseases, genomic technologies, and computational & mathematical biology. The genomics infrastructure at the GIS is utilized to train new scientific talent, to function as a bridge for academic and industrial research, and to explore scientific questions of high impact.

About A*STAR

www.a-star.edu.sg

A*STAR is Singapore's lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge- based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in biomedical sciences, physical sciences and engineering, with a particular focus on fields essential to Singapore's manufacturing industry and new growth industries. It oversees 14 research institutes and supports extramural research with the universities, hospital research centres and other local and international partners. At the heart of this knowledge intensive work is human capital. Top local and international scientific talent drive knowledge creation at A*STAR research institutes. The agency also sends scholars for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training in the best universities, a reflection of the high priority A*STAR places on nurturing the next generation of scientific talent.

For enquiries, please contact the following:

Genome Institute of Singapore:
Winnie Serah Lim
Corporate Communications
(65) 6478 8013
(65) 9730 7884
limcp2@gis.a-star.edu.sg

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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