Researchers have identified a tumor-suppressing gene that protects against the colorectal cancers, a discovery which could lead to the development of a new targeted cancer treatment that aims to reactivate the dying of cancer cells.
The research team at Lyon developed an animal model carrying a mutation of the DCC gene. Mice carrying the mutation develop tumors, because this gene can no longer induce the death of the cancer cells.
The results of this study have been published as a Letter in the 11th December 2011 issue of the journal Nature.
'The organism is naturally protected from the development of cancers thanks to the presence of this tumor-suppressing gene. Unfortunately, certain cancer cells escape from this control by blocking this 'dependence receptor' mechanism. That is how we know that the DCC gene is extinguished in most human cancers,' explains Patrick Mehlen.
In the near future, this research work could lead to a new targeted treatment that aims to reactivate the death of the cancer cells to destroy breast cancer, lung cancer, etc. 'Our group has developed several candidate drugs that reactivate the cell death induced by the DCC receptor in animal models, and we hope to be able to carry out human clinical testing of these candidate drugs in three years' time,' concludes Patrick Mehlen.