New method for combating drug-resistant bowel cancer developed

11 November 2016

Researchers have identified a potentially promising method of interfering with a certain form of bowel cancer's ability to resist treatment.

The Queen's University Belfast study aimed to establish why some cases of advanced bowel cancer eventually become resistant to cetuximab, one of the more commonly-used therapies for this condition.

It was found that some cancer cells were able to survive treatment by increasing the activity of a protein called ADAM17. As such, using a drug to block this protein at the same time as cetuximab resulted in these cancer cells dying.

While it was also shown that other cancer cells found a different way to outmanoeuvre the treatment that did not involve ADAM17, the research nevertheless indicates that resistance to cancer therapy can be combatted.

Lead researcher Dr Sandra Van Schaeybroeck at Queen's University Belfast said: "More work is needed before we can safely test this combination in patients, but the prospect of cutting off cancer's path to resistance is very exciting."

There are around 41,000 cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, with approximately 16,000 people dying of the disease annually.

Posted by Philip Briggs


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