Researchers to activate anti-cancer gene

August 30, 2010

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen's Faculty of Health Sciences have succeeded in decoding the genetic key that gives particular intestinal cells their identity. With this knowledge of the complex network of genes the researchers now hope to stop colon cancer by activating special anti-cancer genes.

Colon sloughs lining

The intestines have to work properly if we are to benefit from the food we eat. Digestive juices must be secreted, the food broken down into smaller components and then transported through the gut wall and onwards to muscles and organs. The lining of the gut is coated in epithelial cells, a specialised layer that produces mucous and hormones while keeping dangerous bacteria and toxins at bay. Close contact with pathogenic microbes and toxins means that the may mutate to form cancer. The small intestine therefore secretes the entire epithelial layer in the course of two to five days, while the large intestine takes three weeks to perform the same process.

Gene provides cell ID

A triggered CDX2 gene tells a cell that it is located in the epithelial tissue of the intestine and thus enables the cell to do its job correctly. Associate Professor Jesper Troelsen and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen made this discovery several years ago: CDX2 may thus be regarded as an identity gene.

Cancer cells deactivate important gene

Using advanced equipment for DNA sequestration at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine the research group has now revealed that CDX2 controls more than 600 other genes governing the way the cells of the intestinal epithelial tissue work, ensuring that the intestine functions properly. The discovery has now been published in the .

"Among the 600 genes we have found five that you can call anti-cancer ", Associate Professor Troelsen says. "We have also studied early stages of colon cancer. We observed that before the colonic began to invade the tissue outside the colon, they deactivated the CDX2 gene, removing their "ID".

"We are now applying for funds to study the properties of CDX2 that enable it to suppress colon cancer and to find a way of reactivating the CDX2 gene to allow us to halt the progression of ".

Explore further: Cancer-causing gut bacteria exposed

Related Stories

Cancer-causing gut bacteria exposed

September 22, 2008

Normal gut bacteria are thought to be involved in colon cancer but the exact mechanisms have remained unknown. Now, scientists from the USA have discovered that a molecule produced by a common gut bacterium activates signalling ...

Novel marker of colon cancer

October 23, 2008

Colon cancer ranks second of all gastrointestinal malignant tumors, it is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Until now, several molecules have been reported to play an important role in gastroenterological ...

Study helps clarify role of vitamin D in cancer therapy

November 17, 2008

A colon cancer cell isn't a lost cause. Vitamin D can tame the rogue cell by adjusting everything from its gene expression to its cytoskeleton. In the Nov. 17 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, Ordóñez-Morán et al. ...

The making of an intestinal stem cell

March 5, 2009

Researchers have found the factor that makes the difference between a stem cell in the intestine and any other cell. The discovery reported in the March 6th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, is an essential ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.