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Bowel cancer breakthrough could help thousands

Written by: QMI Agency
 

Jul. 18, 2014

(Fotolia)


 

A major breakthrough in bowel cancer research out of U.K.'s Queen's University could help thousands of people whose cells resist common treatment.

Dr. Sandra van Schaeybroeck and her team say they've discovered how two genes cause bowel cancer cells to become resistant to treatments.

When patients with aggressive forms of bowel cancer are treated with drugs that target the faulty MEK gene, another gene called MET triggers a survival mechanism in the cancer calls.

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But when the researchers added a drug that targets MET to the mix, the bowel cancer cells died.

Because more than half of people with bowel cancer develop an aggressive form of the disease that does not respond to standard treatment, this research could have widespread implications.

"Understanding how they are involved in development of the disease has also primed the development of a potential new treatment approach for this disease," Schaeybroeck said.

About 24,400 Canadians are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and it is the second-leading cause of death from cancer in men and the third-leading cause of death from cancer in women.

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