Viable New Therapeutic Path to Treating Colorectal Cancer
Toronto, CA - Scientists and surgeons at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have discovered a promising new approach to treating colorectal cancer by disarming the gene that drives self-renewal in stem cells - the root cause of disease, resistance to treatment and relapse.
"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," says principal investigator Dr. John Dick about the findings published online in Nature Medicine.
Dr. Dick pioneered the cancer stem cell field by first identifying leukemia stem cells (1994) and colon cancer stem cells (2007). He is also renowned for isolating a human blood stem cell in its purest form – as a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system – paving the way for clinical use (2011).
In pre-clinical experiments, the research team replicated human colon cancer in mice to determine if specifically targeting the stem cells was clinically relevant. First, the researchers identified that the gene BMI-1, already implicated in maintaining stem cells in other cancers, is the pivotal regulator of colon cancer stem cells and drives the cycle of self-renewal, proliferation and cell survival. Next, the team used an existing small-molecule inhibitor to successfully block BMI-1, thus demonstrating the clinical relevance of this approach. Continue>
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