Navigation Links
New insights into origin of deadly cancer
Date:6/23/2011

Boston, MAResearchers have discovered a new mechanism for the origin of Barrett's esophagus, an intestine-like growth in the esophagus that is triggered by chronic acid reflux and often progresses to esophageal cancer. Studying mice, the researchers found that Barrett's esophagus arises not from mutant cells in the esophagus but rather a small group of previously overlooked cells present in all adults that can rapidly expand to cancer precursors when the normal esophagus is damaged by acid.

This research will be published online in the June 24th issue of Cell.

Decades of cancer research tells us that most of the common cancers begin with genetic changes that occur over a period of 15 to 20 years, in some cases leading to aggressive cancers. However, for a subset of cancers that appear to be linked to chronic inflammation, this model might not hold.

Barrett's esophagus, which was first described by the Australian surgeon Norman Barrett in 1950, affects two to four million Americans. In this condition, tissue forms in the esophagus that resembles the intestinal tissue normally located much farther down the digestive tract. As a result, a person's chances of developing a deadly esophageal adenocarcinoma increase by 50- to 150-fold. Late stage treatment is largely palliative, so it is important to understand how acid reflux triggers it in the first place.

Research from the laboratory of Frank McKeon, Harvard Medical School professor of cell biology, together with Wa Xian, a postdoctoral researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Institute of Medical Biology, Singapore, along with an international consortium including Christopher Crum, director of Women's and Perinatal Pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, has shown that Barrett's esophagus originates from a minor population of non-esophageal cells left over from early development.

For the past decade, McKeon and his laboratory have been using mouse models to investigate the role of p63, a gene involved in the self-renewal of epithelial stem cells including those of the esophagus. McKeon joined forces two years ago with Wa Xian, an expert in signal transduction in cancer cells, to tackle the vexing problem of the origin of Barrett's esophagus.

At that time, the dominant hypothesis for Barrett's was that acid reflux triggers the esophageal stem cells to make intestine cells rather than normal esophageal tissue. However, McKeon and Xian felt the support for this concept was weak. Taking a different track, they studied a mouse mutant lacking the p63 gene and mimicked the symptoms of acid reflux. As a result, the entire esophagus was covered with a Barrett's-like tissue that proved to be a near exact match with human Barrett's at the gene expression level.

The researchers were particularly surprised by the sheer speed with which this Barrett's esophagus appeared in the mice.

"From the speed alone we knew we were dealing with something different here," said Xia Wang, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and co-first author of this work.

Yusuke Yamamoto, a postdoctoral fellow at the Genome Institute of Singapore and also co-first author, added that, "we just had to track the origins of the Barrett's cells back through embryogenesis using our markers from extensive bioinformatics."

In essence, the investigators tracked the precancerous growth to a discrete group of leftover embryonic cells wedged between the junction of the esophagus and the stomach--precisely where endoscopists have argued Barrett's esophagus begins. As predicted by the mouse studies, the researchers identified a group of embryonic cells exactly at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach in all normal humans.

"Barrett's arises from this discrete group of pre-existing, residual embryonic cells present in all adults that seemingly lie-in-wait for a chance to take over when the esophagus is damaged," said McKeon. Added Xian, "We know these embryonic cells have different gene expression patterns from all normal tissues and this makes them inviting targets for therapies to destroy Barrett's before it progresses to cancer."

The therapeutic opportunities of this work are potentially immense.

"We are directing monoclonal antibodies to cell surface markers that can identify these precursor cells, so we may have a new opportunity to intervene therapeutically and prevent Barrett's esophagus in at-risk patients," said Wa Xian.

"Additionally," noted McKeon, "we are cloning the stem cells for both these precursors and for Barrett's esophagus itself, and these should represent critical targets for both monoclonal antibodies and small molecule inhibitors."

Finally, there is reason to believe that this unusual mechanism might apply to a subset of other lethal cancers with unsure origins.

Crum noted that "some very aggressive cancers arise at junctions of two tissues and these deserve closer scrutiny to get at their origins if we are to surmount these diseases."


'/>"/>

Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Epigenetic study reveals new insights into breast cancer
2. Insights gained from growing cold-causing virus on sinus tissue
3. Bird embryo provides unique insights into development related to cancer and wound healing
4. New insights into cancer treatment
5. Scientists reveal new insights into tendon injury
6. First Look at Prostate Cancer Genome Yields Insights
7. New Insights on Who Should Take Erbitux for Colon Cancer
8. Sodium MRI gives new insights into detecting osteoarthritis, NYU researchers find
9. Snake venom studies yield insights for development of therapies for heart disease and cancer
10. Cell symposia meeting, Influenza: Translating basic insights, to be held Dec. 2-4, 2010
11. From head to toe: Deep insights from whole body MRI
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The International ... promote standards of excellence for the field of eating disorders, announces the opening ... 25, 2018 in Orlando, Florida at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate. ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes , which specializes ... of the facility as part of a disaster drill on October 3rd. , Apple ... Shelton City Emergency Manager, as well as the Connecticut Long Term Care Mutual ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids Fun Run ... This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, is aimed ... geared towards children of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, which is ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field”: ... souls in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field” is ... Bible. She has taught all ages and currently teaches a class of ladies at ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Planet Fitness, one of the largest and fastest growing franchisors ... a flagship location in Covington, LA at 401 N. U.S. Highway 190, in January ... Office Depot in the Holiday Square shopping center. Its location allows it to serve ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)... 25, 2017  EpiVax, Inc., a leader in ... immune-engineering today announced the launch of EpiVax Oncology ... personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. EpiVax has provided $500,000 ... to enabling technologies to the new precision immunotherapy ... EpiVax Oncology as Chief Executive Officer. Gad brings ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... , Sept. 22, 2017  As the latest ... Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey ... notes that the medical device industry is in an ... device tax, the 2.3% excise tax on medical device ... they also want covered patients, increased visits and hospital ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ARBOR, Mich. , Sept. 19, 2017 HistoSonics, Inc., a venture-backed medical device ... precise destruction of targeted tissues, announced three leadership team developments today:   ... Stopek, PhD ... ... Veteran medical device executive ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: