14 September 2011
A protein which is crucial for the development of the heart and eye might also prove an effective way to halt colon cancer.
Some 85 per cent of cancers originate in epithelial cells which form the tissues of the body's internal and external linings. The BVES (blood vessel endocardial substance) protein is a crucial part in epithelial cell growth.
Findings published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that reintroducing depleted levels of BVES in colon cancer cells that were beginning to spread (known as metastasis) reduced their cancer-like properties so that they became once again more epithelial in nature.
"In cancer, typically the primary tumour doesn't kill you; it's the metastatic disease that proves lethal," explained Christopher Williams, assistant professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, who co-authored the study.
He added that "if targeting BVES could interfere with metastasis, that would be very exciting" for future cancer treatment.
Findings presented at the Society of Microbiology's autumn conference at the University of York highlighted how an ancient form of bacterium that occurs naturally in the soil produced an enzyme that effectively targets brain, breast and prostate tumours.
Posted by Philip Briggs
1 Williams, Christopher S., et. al., "BVES regulates EMT in human corneal and colon cancer cells and is silenced via promoter methylation in human colorectal carcinoma". Journal of Clinical Investigation. Monday September 12th 2011.
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