Novel designed molecules could stop colon cancer metastasis

February 14, 2013

A Basque research consortium has managed to stop the development of colon cancer and its liver metastasis in an experimental model using mice. This breakthrough, which could open new avenues for the future treatment of these pathologies, has been achieved by creating molecules that interfere with the tumour cells adhering to other cells in the body. In this way, these molecules stop both the tumour growth and the spreading of tumour cells to other organs and their subsequent proliferation.

The study, published today in the renowned American magazine , is based on a previous work by a research group of the University of the Basque Country, which described a series of molecules that reduced in melanoma (a severe type of ) in mice. That work opened the possibility of generating new molecules to act on other types of by following a similar strategy. This is what the current research has achieved, applied to and .

The Basque research consortium is made up by the Basque research centre in bioscience, CIC bioGUNE, the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC) from Strasbourg, France and the spin-off company Ikerchem. They have also received the collaboration of researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry "Rocasolano" (IQFR), from CSIC, and from the Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research.

"In this project we initially designed inhibitors of the cellular adhesion involved in the metastasis of murine melanoma, and then we carried out the chemical synthesis of these molecules, checking their potency and their biological activity. The surprise was that our calculations predicted that by introducing relatively small changes we could generate new molecules able to inhibit cell adhesion involved in a different type of cancer. This prediction was confirmed by the experimental results, thus suggesting that these techniques of chemical design and synthesis may be applied to other related therapeutic targets", says Dr. Fernando Cossío, professor at the UPV/EHU, co-founder of Ikerchem S.L. and president of the Ikerbasque Executive Committee.
 "As well as being relevant for the control of cancer and metastasis, this work shows that in the Basque Country there are teams of researchers in academic institutions and in companies with the necessary experience and collaboration capacity to address multidisciplinary projects of biomedical relevance, by combining synthetic and computational chemistry with the structural analysis of the mechanism of action and the biological validation of the generated molecules", states Dr. Francisco Blanco, Ikerbasque Research Professor at CIC bioGUNE.
Impact of cancer and metastasis

Cancer is the second highest cause of human mortality and its incidence increases with age. Thanks to the progress in early detection and the control of detected tumours, the survival rate has been steadily increased and, in this sense, it is expected that further progress in these two aspects of the disease will be achieved.

Nowadays, 90% of deaths from cancer are caused by the reappearance of the original tumour in a different part of the body, a process known as metastasis. This process takes place when a cancer cell from the original tumour migrates to another organ in the patient's body, generating a new tumour.

Colon cancer, is not among the highest mortality rate cancers, but it often develops metastasis in the liver, which it is. In fact this is the organ where most frequently the metastasis from tumours in other parts of the body appear. This happens because the liver works as a blood and lymph filter and, therefore, cancer cells in these fluids may be trapped in it. The lethal danger of cancer cells moving around the body is what pushes the researchers to find therapies to stop metastasis.

Explore further: Researchers prevent cancer spread by blocking tissue scarring

More information: Sebastian, E. et al. Design, Synthesis, and Functional Evaluation of Leukocyte Function Associated Antigen-1 Antagonists in Early and Late Stages of Cancer Development, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Related Stories

Researchers prevent cancer spread by blocking tissue scarring

January 24, 2013
What to fear most if faced by a cancer diagnosis is the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. This process called metastasis accounts for over 90% of cancer patient deaths and therefore is a strong focus for cancer ...

The loss of a protein makes 'jump' the tumor to the lymph node

March 6, 2012
Metastasis is responsible for 90% of deaths in patients with cancer. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for this process is one of the top goals of cancer research. The metastatic process involves a series of steps ...

Research suggests breast cancer cells have discerning tastes

August 7, 2012
If detected early, most cases of breast cancer are curable. But if the tumour has metastasized – or spread to a site outside of the breast – cure rates decline. A team of researchers from Lawson Health Research ...

Why cancer cells change their appearance?

September 2, 2011
Like snakes, tumour cells shed their skin. Cancer is not a static disease but during its development the disease accumulates changes to evade natural defences adapting to new environmental circumstances, protecting against ...

RANK protein promotes the initiation, progression and metastasis of human breast cancer

April 24, 2012
Researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have shown that overactivation of the RANK signalling pathway promotes the initiation, progression and metastasis of tumours in human breast epithelial ...

Scientists discover how cancers generate muscle-like contractions to spread around the body

August 16, 2011
Cancer Research UK-funded scientists have discovered that a protein called JAK triggers contractions in tumors which allows cancer cells to squeeze though tiny spaces and spread, in research published in Cancer Cell today.

Recommended for you

Comparison of screening recommendations indicates annual mammography

August 21, 2017
When to initiate screening for breast cancer, how often to screen, and how long to screen are questions that continue to spark emotional debates. A new study compares the number of deaths that might be prevented as a result ...

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 15, 2013
Thats great news !!
When is it being put under trial on humans?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.