Scientists stop colon cancer growth in mice by blocking just one enzyme

GALVESTON, Texas -- Texas researchers have discovered what may become a potent new weapon in the fight against colon cancer.

In cell culture experiments, scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and the University of Texas at Arlington determined that stopping the activity of a single enzyme called aldose reductase could shut down the toxic network of biochemical signals that promotes inflammation and colon cancer cell growth.

In a dramatic demonstration of the potential of this discovery, they followed up this work with animal studies showing that blocking the production of aldose reductase halted the growth of human colon cancer cells implanted in laboratory mice.

"By inhibiting aldose reductase we were able to completely stop the further growth of colorectal cancer tumor cells," said UTMB professor Satish K. Srivastava, senior author of a paper about the discovery to be published Oct. 1 in the journal Cancer Research.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer is the country's second leading cancer killer. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 70,651 men and 68,883 women were diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States; 28,471 men and 28,132 women died from the disease.

In a series of cell-culture experiments, Srivastava and his colleagues--including lead author and postdoctoral fellow Ravinder Tammali, assistant professor Kota V. Ramana, and Sharad S. Singhal and Sanjay Awasthi of the University of Texas at Arlington-- investigated aldose reductase's role in colon cancer cell growth. First they stimulated colon cancer cells with growth factors, chemicals known to kick-start inflammatory chain reactions that encourage colon cancer cells to proliferate; this proliferation process then itself produces even more inflammation and cancer cell growth. (Chronic inflammation is strongly linked to the development of c

Contact: Jim Kelly
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

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