October 7, 2008

British Study Focuses on Colon Cancer

British medical scientists say they've made a series of "groundbreaking" discoveries that have major implications for the treatment of colon cancer.

Led by Professor Janusz Jankowski of the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, researchers examined the cell adhesion molecule P-Cadherin, which is expressed in the mucous membrane of an inflamed intestine and colon.

The scientists said P-Cadherin gene is important during early development, including in the formation of the fetus, but its actions are suppressed in the normal mature colon in adults.

In the new study, the researchers discovered how the bowel becomes abnormal long before obvious changes are observable by microscope, and how early precancer expands within the bowel. The team has also highlighted the genetic and molecular mechanisms that switch on the gene, causing the processes to occur, and -- in a model system -- discovered the process is more likely to occur in an inflamed bowel than a non inflamed bowel.

The scientists said their findings are a dramatic step forward in colon cancer research and hold promise for future discoveries and therapies.

The study appears in the journal Cancer Research.