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Investigating the role of aging and poor nutrition on colon cancer: NIH awards Einstein $3.2 million grant
Date:5/8/2014

in fat and low in levels of vitamin D, calcium and fiber. Not only did the diet cause a notable increase in the incidence of sporadic colon cancer in mice, but Dr. Augenlicht also saw ominous changes at the cellular level well before tumors developed.

Those changes were observed within intestinal crypts glands embedded in the wall of the small intestine. The crypts give rise to cells that absorb nutrients and that protect it from harmful substances, including the bacteria residing in the intestine. The crypts also house stem cells, which make daughter cells that travel from the crypts to repopulate and restore the intestine's mucosal lining.

Dr. Augenlicht's lab recently found that when mice are fed a Westernized diet, the crypts undergo an inflammatory response that seems to cause their stem cells to accumulate mutations. In addition, the daughter cells of these stem cells tend to stay within the crypt rather than travel into other portions of the intestinal lining which may be a sign that stem-cell mutations were accumulating in them. Aging is also implicated in mutations, so the combination of a Westernized diet and getting older would increase the probability of colon tumors arising from mutated intestinal cells.

The Einstein researchers will use several novel techniques to find how age and diet interact to produce the intestinal stem-cell mutations that appear to be key players in causing colon cancer. One of those techniques was developed by Jan Vijg, Ph.D, professor and chair of genetics, professor of ophthalmology & visual sciences, and the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics at Einstein and a key co-investigator on the renewed grant. Known as single-cell
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Contact: Deirdre Branley
Deirdre.Branley@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-8806
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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