Scientists observed that cancer stem cells taken from the gastrointestinal system in patients with a chronic digestive disease called ulcerative colitis will transform into cancerous tumors in mice.
The finding, now online and to be featured on the cover of the Thursday (Oct. 15) issue of Cancer Research, may help explain why patients with colitis have up to a 30-fold risk of developing colon cancer compared with people without the disease.
New understanding of the link between colitis and cancer could lead to diagnostic tests that would evaluate tissue taken from patients with colitis for signs of cancer stem cell development, thereby identifying patients who may be at greater risk for cancer.
"Ultimately it would be great if we could prevent colitis or treat colitis so it never gets to the cancerous stage," said UF colorectal surgeon Emina Huang, M.D., who is a member of the Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at UF's McKnight Brain Institute and the UF College of Medicine.
Although colonoscopy is very effective in screening and preventing colon cancer for most people, for patients with colitis no diagnostic tests work well because the inflamed tissue makes identification of precancerous changes difficult.
According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, approximately 700,000 people have colitis in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates that cancer of the colon and rectum will claim the lives of about 50,000 people this year.
UF scientists gathered colitic tissue from humans and chemically screened it for colon cancer stem cells, also called tumor initiating cells. These cells were then isolated and monitored in mice to see if tumors would grow.
Huang said these findings shed light on that fact that it may not be just the cancer "seed" cell, but the "soil" – in this case inflamed colon tissue – that plays a role in the development of cancer.
"Is it the seed, is it the soil or is it their interaction?" she said. "We think probably both, but now we have a new way to look at it and a new method of attack."
B. Mark Evers, M.D., a professor and vice chair of surgery at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said the study emphasizes the emerging role of the surrounding inflammatory tumor microenvironment on tumor growth and subsequent metastasis.
"Dr. Huang and her group have identified a potentially important mechanism to explain why long-standing inflammation of the colon predisposes patients to the development of cancer," said Evers, who is director of the Lucille P. Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Ky.
To further understand the role of the "seed" and "soil" interaction, UF researchers paired colon cancer stem cells with normal, colitic and cancerous human cells taken from the scaffolding layer of the large intestine. The cells were implanted into mice to analyze growth rates. The combination of tumor cells and normal scaffolding tissue cells grew at the slowest rate. Tumor cells paired with cancerous tissue grew at an intermediate rate, and tumor cells paired with the colitic tissue grew at the fastest rate.
Huang said they found heightened levels of two immune system hormones called interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 in the cells from the colitic and cancerous tissues, which had the faster growth rates.
When UF researchers decreased the expression of these hormones within the cells, the tumor growth drastically decreased. When the hormones returned, the tumors began to grow again.
"We don't understand the transition at the molecular level so we are trying to figure out what we can target to interfere, intervene or inhibit that transformation of the benign colitic cells," she said. "The thought is if we can create a therapy to decrease function of these hormones, we may be able to prevent or inhibit cancer growth."
Clinical trials looking at the role of one of these hormones in humans are under way in England, Huang said.
Jennifer Brindise | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Cancer > Huang > cancerous human cells > cancerous tissue > colon cancer > colon predisposes patients > diagnostic test > human cell > immune system hormones > long-standing inflammation > stem cells > subsequent metastasis > tumor cells > tumor growth > tumor initiating cells
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences