Dec 02, 2013
By AM740 Staff
Canadian scientists believe they have found a weakness in colon cancer stem cells that could reduce the rate of recurrence. Researchers at Toronto’s University Health Network have used an experimental drug to disable a gene that regulates these stem cells. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s John Dick is Principal researcher. He says a gene known as BMI-1 is the key regulator of colon cancer stem cells that propels their self-renewal and proliferation. In Sunday’s issue of Nature Medicine, the Toronto researchers describe experiments in which they disarmed the BMI-1 gene, thereby stopping colon cancer stem cells from generating malignant cells. This contrasts with the decades-old approach to traditional cancer treatment based on therapies aimed at killing the fast-dividing cells that form tumours. But those therapies do not always result in permanent eradication of the malignancy. The gene is thought to initiate the development of colon cancer one of the top-three cancer killers of Canadians.