A compound that provides an alternative treatment option to keep colorectal cancer cells in the gut alive and tumor-free could be developed and delivered by the end of the year, a new approach that could improve outcomes against a particularly dangerous type of cancer.
While a growing body of evidence now shows that E-selectins–specialized immune system receptors usually implicated in many cancers, including those in the gut–can exhibit cancer-promoting and tumor-driving characteristics, the current light treatment that patients with colorectal cancer can take to cure the disease has been hindered by a lack of specific E-selectin inhibitors that target cells that are found at tumors.
But as Harvard Medical School’s Joyce McGinnis, postdoctoral fellow and lead author of evidence-based. Nature Communications on January 25, 2018, reports, people have incorporated this work into their colorectal cancer treatment plans, and, through testing a new E-selectin inhibitor, they have seen significant increases in tumor cells’ survival in animals.
Reached for by Gelladir Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the chemist behind the antibody, McGinnis and her colleagues speculate that because the E-selectin receptor is located in the gut, a blocked binding to the E-selectin receptor in gut cells may be a promising alternative to treating colorectal cancer with Western-style chemotherapy.
“We know that this receptor can be selectively expressed in tumors, and so there is a subtype of colorectal cancer, which is very common, ” said McGinnis, a member of Harvard Cancer Center. “But as we suppress it with diet and not entirely suppress it, we can achieve even more robust results. Typically, in previous treatments, the tumor cells are completely eliminated, but in this approach, the tumor cells are completely eliminated. “
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher, Dr. Katherine Runyon, now with the National Cancer Council has been awarded a patent for an experimental compound that inhibits the entry of the gut tumor growth factor EGF into cells.
Runyon heads up the Mater Visuela Alliance (MVA), a consortium working to better understanding and solving primary and secondary causes of blindness in children. She is also a professor of cell biology and biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School. She has won several prizes for public health.
Gelladir is adapting a research facility it built in South Carolina to examine the presence of EGF inhibitors in the gut cells of rats. The facility was established as part of the National Institutes of Health grant rs5036_0008.
Gelladir’s advanced system is able to utilize a rat model in which mice have been genetically altered to produce gut cells lacking the EGF receptor. Specialized for cancer testing, the colleagues are analyzing gene expression parameters from gut cells when the mice are treated with 4E-BP1, a mostly aER-targeting rapamycin.