A New Weapon Against Colon Cancer?


Thursday, March 20th 2008, 11:21 pm
By: News On 6


The University of Oklahoma says it's armed with new life-saving information in the fight against colon cancer.  News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports a team of researchers says they've discovered a protein that can stop the disease.

It's a disease that can strike anyone at anytime, but OU Cancer Institute says colon cancer just may have met its match.

"We've identified a protein that's called Musashi-1," said Dr Courtney Houchen with the OU Cancer Institute.

Researchers say their work shows blocking the protein may stop the disease.  It's a discovery that began with long time research on adult stem cells in the intestines and the colon.  Doctors believe those stem cells are precursors for most cancers in the gastro-intestinal track.

"We've blocked that protein using SIR technology and we found that tumors we caused to form in mice regressed," said Dr Courtney Houchen with the OU Cancer Institute.

Right now, most cancer treatments attack rapidly growing cancer cells.

"We liken it to cutting off your hair. If you don't get rid of the root, the hair will grow back," said Dr Courtney Houchen with the OU Cancer Institute.

They says that's because cancer carrying stem cells grow more slowly and the cancer therapies won't necessarily reach them.

OU hopes this latest finding will uproot the disease, but it could be a while before they know if the research they've done on mice will do you any good.

"We have to do much more testing to see if this process occurs in other cancers," said Dr Courtney Houchen with the OU Cancer Institute.

And, human trials will have to be done, too.  OU researchers hope to begin clinical trials in the next five to seven years.  A delivery system to block the protein also has to be invented and doctors say we're pretty far from that.