Brain Protein May Be Useful Target in Colorectal Cancer

Tumor progression is usually ensured by more than one proliferative mechanism. When one of these is shut down by a specifically targeted drug, other mechanisms may emerge. While these events may lead to treatment failure, they may also become an opportunity for researchers to identify novel targets to be further explored. In a paper recently published online in the journal Oncology (Vol. 79, pages 430-439, 2011), Dr. Rafael Roesler and colleagues describe a novel potential drug target in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the fourth most common cancer in men and the third in women worldwide. It is a frequent cancer, with more than 1 million new cases every year and a poor survival rate. Rapid increases in CRC incidence have been observed mainly in emerging economies. These increases are attributed to changes in diet, life style, and patterns of physical activity. In Western countries, only 55% of the patients are alive 5 years after diagnosis, with most patients dying from metastatic disease. Although a number of treatment options are available for CRC patients, including surgery, chemotherapy, and biologic therapies targeting two different mechanisms—angiogenesis (drug: bevacizumab) and epidermal growth factor receptors (drugs: cetuximab and panitumumab)—new treatment options are required to improve survival rates. The search for novel targets led Dr. Roesler at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) Brazil, Dr. Gilberto Schwartsmann, and graduate student Caroline Brunetto de Farias, among others, to investigate whether a brain-derived protein known to be involved in tumor growth, metastasis, and drug resistance in a number of cancers, including some non-neurological cancers, could also be found in CRC. The team led by Dr.
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