Tu­mor sup­pres­sor gene pro­motes some col­orec­tal can­cers

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY -

SPROUTY2, a gene known to stop tu­mors spread­ing to other parts of the body in many types of can­cer, ap­pears to play the op­po­site role in some forms of col­orec­tal can­cer. This was the find­ing of a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Onco­gene and led by the Univer­sity of Mis­souri School of Medicine in Columbia, which may spur new treat­ments for col­orec­tal can­cer.Se­nior au­thor Sharad Khare, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the School’s Divi­sion of Gas­troen­terol­ogy and Hepa­tol­ogy, says: “The gene known as Sprouty2 has pre­vi­ously been shown to pro­tect against metas­ta­sis, or the spread­ing of can­cer to other parts of the body, in breast, prostate and liver can­cer.”

But he and his col­leagues have dis­cov­ered that the same gene may, in some cases, ac­tu­ally pro­mote metas­ta­sis. For more than 3 years, they have been study­ing Sprouty2 in can­cer cells, in mice with can­cer and in sam­ples taken from hu­man biop­sies.

They have used dif­fer­ent ways of look­ing at how the gene be­haves at the molec­u­lar level and found it plays a dif­fer­ent role in col­orec­tal can­cer to the one it plays in other can­cers. For ex­am­ple, in some can­cers, Sprouty2 blocks molec­u­lar path­ways that would oth­er­wise al­low can­cer cells to grow and spread to other parts of the body.

But, as they de­scribe in their study, the re­searchers also found that in some col­orec­tal can­cers, Sprouty2 ap­pears to boost the metas­ta­sis path­ways. Prof. Khare be­lieves this hap­pens when the gene is up-reg­u­lated or su­per­charged. The main rea­son peo­ple die of col­orec­tal can­cer is be­cause of tu­mor re­cur­rence and spread to other or­gans.

One of the study’s find­ings shows that si­lenc­ing Sprouty2 sup­presses ep­ithe­lial-to-mes­enchy­mal tran­si­tion (EMT) in cells. EMT is a trans­for­ma­tion process where a cell un­der­goes bio­chem­i­cal changes and ac­quires the abil­ity to mi­grate and be­come more in­va­sive and re­sis­tant to pro­grammed cell death, or apop­to­sis.

Sprouty2’s role in reg­u­lat­ing EMT had not been in­ves­ti­gated in col­orec­tal can­cer be­fore, note the au­thors. Prof. Khare says their find­ings are an im­por­tant step in im­prov­ing what we know about tu­mor spread in col­orec­tal can­cer, but it is also im­por­tant to note they only ap­pear to be true of a sub­set of col­orec­tal can­cer pa­tients. He con­cludes:

“We don’t yet know why this is the case, but we hope to de­ter­mine if there is a cor­re­la­tion be­tween the up-reg­u­la­tion of this gene and the life ex­pectancy of pa­tients with col­orec­tal can­cer. Fu­ture stud­ies will help us un­der­stand who may be at risk, and ul­ti­mately, if per­son­al­ized treat­ments can be planned to tar­get this gene.” Over­all, it is es­ti­mated that about 1 in 20 peo­ple will de­velop col­orec­tal can­cer at some point in their lives, with women at slightly lower risk than men.

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