Weizmann Institute scientists have succeeded in reversing the metastatic properties of colon cancer cells, in vitro. The findings, published in the Nov. 24 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology, uncover a key process involved in the metastasis of colon cancer cells and raise hopes that target-specific drugs might be devised to prevent, or reverse, the invasive behavior of metastatic colon cancer cells. Colon cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer in men and third in women in the Western world.
The researchers, headed by Prof. Avri Ben-Zeev of the Molecular Cell Biology Department, have confirmed that the invasive behavior of colon cancer cells results from the malfunction of adhesion-related ("cell-gluing") mechanisms.
Cells are held together by "adhesive molecules," including two key molecules called beta-catenin and E-cadherin, which are found near the surfaces of cells. Beta-catenin also has another function: when inside the nuclei of cells, it regulates the expression of genes. Beta-catenin is known to be involved in various cancers, including colon cancer, by aberrantly activating genes whose identity is mostly unclear. In previous research, Ben-Zeevs team identified several such genes that are involved in the progression of human melanoma and colon cancer.
Alex Smith | EurekAlert!
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