Jan 08, 2004 - 7:24 pm
Israel Scientists Make Colon Cancer Cell Breakthrough
Researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute said Tuesday they have managed for the first time to halt the spread of colon cancer cells in laboratory tests.
Scientists at the center near Tel Aviv believe that their breakthrough could help pharmaccologists develop drugs to prevent or reverse colon cancer, which is the second most common form of cancer in men and third with women.
The researchers found that the metastatic, or migrating nature of colon cancer cells, results from the malfunctioning of "cell-gluing" molecules including beta-catenin, which can lead to cells breaking loose from tissue and migrating to form another tumour in another part of the colon.
The malfunctioning can result in rival e-cadherin molecules being overwhelmed by beta-catenin, activating a cancerous gene known as Slug.
But the researchers found that by supplementing e-cadherin molecules in parts of the colon they can subsequently reverse the process and make the cells stick together again.
"The fact that the invasive process in colon cancer can be reversed is surprising," said chief researcher Avri Ben-Zeev.
"It offers hope of reversing the metastatic process or even preventing it in the future by designing a drug that targets Slug."