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Why therapy for colon cancer has so far often failed


New approaches to treating colon cancer asked

The colon can be removed relatively surgically at an early stage, but the diseases are often only discovered at a stage in which the operation offers only limited chances of success. Scientists at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (LMU) have investigated why this is the case in a recent study.

In their study, the team from the LMU Institute for Pathology at Eva Marina Schmidt and Professor David Horst (now Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin) investigated why colon cancer can only be delayed by a few months if treatment is delayed begins. In the case of colon carcinoma, the previous therapy often fizzles out because the tumor can multiply over several cell types, the experts explain. Their results have been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

So far, only slight delays in the course of the disease have been possible

Colon cancer can often be surgically removed in the early stages, but in the case of more advanced tumors, certain signaling pathways in the cancer cells must be blocked so that the tumor cannot spread further, the scientists explain. With the previous approaches to blocking the signaling pathways, however, the course of the disease can only be delayed by a few months.

Several signal paths have to be blocked

According to the researchers, the limited effect of previous treatment approaches can be attributed to the fact that the colon cancer tumors are composed of two different cell types that can replace one another. If a certain signal path is suppressed during therapy, this only leads to the fact that the other cell type of the tumor takes over the growth. For this reason, the researchers propose as a new therapeutic approach to attack the signaling pathways of both cell types at the same time in order to stop tumor growth. For the study, the scientists examined samples from 300 patients and successfully checked in the mouse model whether the growth of the tumor can be stopped as soon as the signaling pathways of both cell types are blocked. (fp)

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