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New England Journal of Medicine publishes CWRU review of the 'molecular basis of colorectal cancer'
Date:12/16/2009

CLEVELAND -- December 16, 2009 -- Every year in the United States, 160,000 cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed, and 57,000 patients die of the disease, making it the second leading cause of death from cancer among adults, after lung cancer.

As researchers and clinicians fervently look for causes and cures for colorectal cancer -- simultaneously generating thousands of studies producing more and more promising results Dr. Sanford Markowitz, professor and researcher of cancer and genetics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and oncologist at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, today published his forward-looking view of the "Molecular Basis of Colorectal Cancer" in the Dec. 17, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, with co-author, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, from the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

"Today's challenges are to understand the molecular basis of individual susceptibility to colorectal cancer and to determine factors that initiate the development of the tumor, drive its progression, and determine its responsiveness or resistance to antitumor agents," wrote Dr. Markowitz.

Key advances that the article singled out toward meeting these goals are:

  • Discoveries in DNA sequencing technology have made it possible to sequence the entire genome of a human cancer. Colorectal cancer provided the first example of the power of this technology. Sequencing of 18,000 (nearly all) of the known human genes in 35 colon cancers identified 140 as candidate cancer genes that were mutated in at least two colon cancers and that probably contributed to the cancer phenotype.

  • Biological pathways that are deregulated in colon cancer have been identified, and could now form the basis of new therapeutic agents. Although some high-frequency mutations are attractive targets for drug development, common signal
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Contact: Christina DeAngelis
cat41@case.edu
216-368-3635
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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