The new substance can inhibit the activity of cancer stem cells, which are difficult to treat with conventional anticancer drugs and lead to cancer metastasis and recurrence, announced a team of researchers from the National Cancer Center and other institutes on Aug. 26.
The scientists are looking to commercialize the chemical as a new anticancer agent.
About 130,000 people develop colorectal cancer in Japan every year, meaning the carcinoma is the most common cancer in the nation.
Ninety percent of patients contract that type of tumor after their Wnt signaling--a command system for cells to control their proliferation--suffer from anomalies, causing cancer cells as well as cancer stem cells, which develop into cancer cells, to be produced and proliferate.
Tesshi Yamada, chief of the Division of Chemotherapy and Clinical Research of the National Cancer Center Research Institute, and his colleagues discovered an enzyme strongly associated with the signaling abnormalities.
They developed a new chemical that inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells by suppressing the activity of the enzyme.
After administrating the substance to mice with transplanted human colorectal cancer cells, the researchers found the expansion of tumors could be inhibited by 80 to 90 percent compared with nontreated mice.
According to the scientists, the new chemical blocked cancer stem cells’ ability to produce new tumors drastically, while existing anticancer agents are not effective in dealing with those cells.
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