Researchers have found that low levels of a particular gene make colon cancer patients resistant to celebrex treatment.
Lead researcher Dr Sanford Markowitz, the Markowitz-Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and an oncologist at the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals Case Medical Centre said that individuals who have low expression of the gene 15-PGDH also called 'Celebrex gene' make individuals resistant to colon cancer treatment.
"These findings have two important practical implications," said Markowitz, who is also an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
"First, they suggest that measurement of 15-PGDH may identify which individuals are most likely to benefit from treatment with Celecoxib as a colon tumor preventative.
"Second, they suggest that identifying drugs that could increase 15-PGDH expression in the colon could be a potent new strategy for preventing development of tumours in the colon," Markowitz added.
Previous studies by Markowitz had shown that the gene 15-PGDH is expressed by the normal colon and acts similarly to Celecoxib in preventing colon tumors by inhibiting the COX-2 pathway.
Another study led by Dr Monica Bertagnolli, at the Harvard Brigham and Women's Hospital showed that with Celecoxib treatment, individuals who had previously developed colon adenomas cut the rate of developing new adenomas by one-third, and cut the rate of developing new large adenomas by two-thirds.
In the new study, the researchers sought to determine whether protection from colon tumors by Celecoxib actually require the joint action of both the drug and the 15-PGDH gene
They found that in mice that genetically lacked the gene 15-PGDH Celecoxib proved unable to prevent the development of colon tumors, suggesting that both the drug and the gene are needed to protect the colon from tumour development.
The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.