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Suppressing activity of common intestinal bacteria reduces tumor growth
Date:5/9/2010

t essentially consists of prophylactic surgery -- removal of the polyps before they turn cancerous.

"Right now, people with FAP don't have many options," said Raz. "They develop the cancer relatively early in life and the only treatment is surgery, often a total colectomy the removal of the entire colon. And that still doesn't preclude the possibility of developing tumors elsewhere in the body."

That's why the second part of the study was especially encouraging, Raz said. When researchers administered a protein enzyme called extracellular signal-related kinase or ERK, it appeared to suppress intestinal turmorigenesis in the mice, causing cancer proteins to degrade more rapidly and increasing the survival time of the mice. If the inhibiting enzyme, which is currently undergoing clinical trials elsewhere, proves to be safe and effective, researchers say it eventually could provide FAP patients with another option other than surgery.

"This is a clear case of nature and nurture in molecular biology," said Raz. "Nature is the host, who in some cases is going to be genetically predisposed to develop certain diseases. Nurture is the environment, which in this case is bacterial activity and its effects. The mechanism for what's happening here with these mice and tumor growth is very clear. We know what we want and need to do."


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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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