Gene therapy treatment for bowel cancer may be on the horizon

Bowel cancer’s origins can often be traced back to just a single faulty gene: APC – short for adenomatous polyposis coli.

The potent effects of damage to this critical stretch of our DNA were first uncovered back in the 1980s, when our scientists helped track it down and link it to bowel cancer.

The gene turned out to be what’s known as a ‘tumour suppressor’, which normally (as the name suggests) protects our cells from becoming cancerous.

This crucial role is reflected in the fact that it’s the first domino to fall in an estimated nine out of 10 cases of bowel cancer. Faults in the gene switch it off, leaving once-healthy cells exposed to a relentless barrage of signals telling them to keep growing – ultimately leading to the formation of a tumour.

Since APC’s discovery, scientists have been trying to decode these signals. The ultimate goal is to find ways to target them with treatments, tackling bowel cancer at its very root.

Things recently took a big step forwards: an international team of scientists – writing in the journal Cell – has offered the first answers to a question that has been on scientists’ minds for some time: what happens if you switch APC back on again?

And, tantalisingly, their answers point to potential new ways to develop treatments for bowel cancer.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: ‘Turning off’ bowel cancer – as easy as APC?

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