Cancer Researchers at the Max Delbrck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charit Universitts Medizin Berlin (Germany) have identified a gene which enables them to predict for the first time with high probability if colon cancer is going to metastasize. Assistant Professor Dr. Ulrike Stein, Professor Peter M. Schlag, and Professor Walter Birchmeier were able to demonstrate that the gene MACC1 (Metastasis-Associated in Colon Cancer 1) not only promotes tumor growth but also the development of metastasis.When MACC1 gene activity is low, the life expectancy of patients with colon cancer is longer in comparison to patients with high MACC1 levels. (Nature Medicine, doi: 10.1038/nm.1889)*.
According to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, more than 108,000 people developed colon cancer in the US in 2008. Despite surgery, chemo- and radiotherapy, only 50 percent of patients can be cured because 20 percent of the patients have already developed metastasis by the time their colon cancer is diagnosed. In addition, one-third of patients whose treatment of the original colon cancer was successful will, nevertheless, go on to develop metastasis.
The MDC and Charit researchers are convinced that the identification of the MACC1 gene will aid medical doctors in identifying those patients as early as possible who are at high risk of developing life-threatening metastasis in the liver and the lungs. As a result, more intensive treatment and follow-up care could be offered to high risk patients.
MACC1 turns on a signaling pathway which is important for tumor growth and the formation of metastasis. Researchers call this pathway HGF/Met signaling pathway. Once MACC1 has activated this HGF/Met signaling pathway, tumor cells proliferate much faster, get rid of their ties within the cellular tissue, and eventually settle down as metastasis at various sights throughout the body far from the original tu
|Contact: Barbara Bachtler|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres