The UK-led team, headed by scientists from Durham University and the North East England Stem Cell Institute, (NESCI*), studied tissue samples from 700 colorectal (bowel) cancer patients and tracked their progress.
They found that patients who had a stem cell marker protein called Lamin A present in their tissue were more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease.
The team concluded that if the marker is detected in the early forms of colorectal cancer, these patients should be given chemotherapy in addition to the surgery normally offered to ensure a better survival predicament.
The team now aims to develop a robust prognostic tool for use in the health service.
The study, funded by the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) and NHS Research and Development funds, is published in the open-access scientific journal Public Library of Science One (PLOS One).
The Durham University/NESCI scientists worked with colleagues from The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and the Departments of Pathology and Epidemiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, where each year more than 36,000 people are diagnosed with the disease. Worldwide over a million new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed in 2002.
Almost three-quarters of bowel cancer cases occur in people aged 65 and over. The development of disease is linked with diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. (Source of statistics: Cancer Research UK fact sheet).
In colorectal cancer, there are four key stages of the disease. The stage of a patient’s cancer is determined by a series of hospital tests, the results of which determine the treatment they are given.
In the two earlier stages, before the cancer involves the lymph nodes, patients normally have an operation to remove the cancer from the bowel. They are rarely given chemotherapy in addition to the surgery. This is because for many patients, who are often elderly and frail, chemotherapy may cause more harm than benefit. It’s therefore critical to know when and in whom it should be used.
However, the new study suggests that around one third of these patients will express the Lamin A stem cell marker, which indicates a more serious form of the cancer. These patients, argue the scientists, should be given chemotherapy to target these stem cells, which should ultimately improve their recovery and survival rates.
Study co-author Professor Chris Hutchison, of Durham University and NESCI, said: “Currently the hospitals use a standard test to work out how far the cancer has progressed and then they use this to determine the treatment the patient should receive. However, we are potentially able to more accurately predict who would benefit from chemotherapy.”
Co-author Dr Stefan Przyborski, of Durham University and NESCI, said: “We now aim to carry out more work in this area to develop a prognostic tool which we hope will eventually be for widespread use by the health services in the treatment of bowel cancer.”
Professor Robert Wilson, a consultant surgeon and bowel cancer specialist at The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, also a research team member, said: “We have a very high number of patients with bowel cancer in the north east of England in particular. We know the best treatment for very early and very late disease but there are still a lot of unknowns in-between these two extremes.
“Chemotherapy can be very useful but can have a number of side effects, so we only want to use it where we think there’s a good chance it will help. This test will help us determine that.”
Mark Matfield, Scientific Adviser with the Association for International Cancer Research, said: "There is a desperate need for more effective treatments for bowel cancer. The problem is identifying which cancers need which treatments. This discovery may show us the way to do that and help save a lot of lives."
* ‘The North-east England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) draws together Durham and Newcastle Universities, the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and other partners in a unique interdisciplinary collaboration to convert stem cell research and technologies into cost-effective, ethically-robust 21st century health solutions to ameliorate degenerative diseases, the effects of ageing and serious injury. The Institute has received substantial funding and other support from the Regional Development Agency, One NorthEast and is partly based at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle.’ http://www.nesci.ac.uk/
The big clean up after stress
25.05.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy