Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gene Manipulation Turns Cancerous Cells Normal

Cancer Research

Colon Cancer Test: Berman of VOA News writes: “Lowe says 90 percent of colorectal tumors contain mutations that have a silenced Apc tumor suppressor gene, suggesting that reactivating the gene might cure the vast majority of colon cancer patients.”
Image Credit: AP
Source: VOA News

Here is some more good research news on the fight against cancer, in particular, on colorectal cancer. Jessica Berman writes (“Gene Reactivation Turns Colorectal Cancer into Normal Tissue”; June 18, 2015) in VOA News:
By manipulating a single gene, researchers turned cancerous colorectal cells back into normal tissue in experiments with mice. The strategy may eventually become one of the mainstays for a hard-to-treat malignancy, which kills nearly 700,000 people a year. If caught early using a screening technique called a colonoscopy, colorectal cancer is easily treated by surgery.

But once cancer spreads, it becomes very hard to conquer, according to Scott Lowe, a researcher with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Toxic chemotherapy drugs are often used in an effort to kill malignant cancerous cells. But they also kill healthy cells and many patients end up dying anyway. As the cancer evolves,
Lowe says a tumor suppressor gene called Apc becomes less active in the vast majority of patients. But his team genetically manipulated Apc with a surprising result. “The cells basically went back to normal. They didn’t die, they didn’t go away; they underwent the process of differentiation where a stem-like cancer now becomes a differentiated normal cell that seems to have many of its normal functions," said Lowe.
I was diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer in December 2012 and I have undergone chemotherapy, which does kills healthy cells as it does cancerous cells. (I am 2-½ years cancer-free, or as the medical community prefers to call it, “no evidence of disease” (NED; I am halfway to the milestone five-year mark.) I have written about the nasty and undesirable effects of chemotherapy in my cancer blog, where I have also written about the desirability of finding an effective replacement treatment for chemotherapy.

This takes scientific research, which requires both money and dedicated medical researchers. Thus, I find this news both exciting and promising. Perhaps in 20 years, we will no longer have this discussion, and we will no longer consider cancer (necessitating particular unpleasant treatment) as the dreadful disease it still remains.

For more, go to [VOANews]