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Researchers at IRB discover a key regulator of colon cancer
Date:3/27/2014

Barcelona, Thursday 27 March 2014.- A team headed by Angel R. Nebreda at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) identifies a dual role of the p38 protein in colon cancer. The study demonstrates that, on the one hand, p38 is important for the optimal maintenance of the epithelial barrier that protects the intestine against toxic agents, thus contributing to decreased tumour development. Intriguingly, on the other hand, once a tumour has formed, p38 is required for the survival and proliferation of colon cancer cells, thus favouring tumour growth. The study is published today in Cancer Cell, a journal with one of the highest impact factors in cancer research.

p38 enhances the survival of colon cancer cells

The protein p38 is a member of the MAPK familymolecules that transmit signals from outside the cell inside, thus allowing an appropriate and dynamic cell response. This protein is expressed in all cells of the body and it performs highly diverse functions depending on the context and tissue involved. Nebreda's group at IRB focuses on the function of p38 in cancer. Their work describes the essential role of p38 in tumour progression for the first time in vivo. Furthermore, the scientists demonstrate that the treatment of mice with a p38 inhibitor previously used in clinical assays causes a considerable reduction in tumour size. The study provides useful information for clinicians and pharmaceutical companies about the role of p38 in the context of colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the world.

"p38 inhibitors may have clinical applications, but probablyand this forms part of the medicine of the futurethese will be in combination with other drugs. We are trying to find out what p38 inhibitors should be combined with to make the tumour, which is now smaller, finally disappear," explains the Spanish scientist Nebreda, head of the Signalling and Cell Cycle Lab
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Contact: Sònia Armengou
armengou@irbbarcelona.org
34-934-037-255
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert  

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Researchers at IRB discover a key regulator of colon cancer
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