Gene Activation Could Reverse Colon Cancer

Could the human body be the strongest weapon against colon cancer? A recent study published in the June 18 issue of Cell provides encouraging evidence that reactivating a single tumor suppressor gene could enable the body to revert colon cancer cells back to normal tissue.

Traditional cancer treatments have centered on eliminating cancer cells through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. However, Scott Lowe of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and his team of researchers performed a study that focused on reactivating a tumor suppressor gene called adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc). Approximately 90 percent of colorectal tumors contain mutations that inactivate Apc. These mutations are thought to be responsible for initiating colon cancer, although it is currently unknown whether they contribute to tumor growth and survival outcomes.

Lowe and his team used a genetic technique to reactivate Apc in mice with colorectal tumors. In just 4 days, tumor growth stopped, and normal intestinal function had been fully restored. Tumors were completely eliminated within two weeks, and no signs of cancer were present during their 6-month follow-up.

“The concept of identifying tumor-specific driving mutations is a major focus of many laboratories around the world,” said study author Lukas Dow. “If we can define which types of mutations and changes are critical events driving tumor growth, we will be better equipped to identify the most appropriate treatments for individual cancers.”
Lowe and his team plan to continue their research by studying the effects of Apc restoration in tumors that have metastasized to other regions. Lowe adds that restoring Apc function in human patients is not practical at this time, but this research may one day lead to drug treatments that can reproduce the tumor-suppressing effects of Apc (Source: EndoNurse).