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
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences