Existing medicines show promise for treating stomach and bowel cancer

February 4, 2014 by Vanessa Solomon
Existing medicines show promise for treating stomach and bowel cancer
Dr Emma Stuart has discovered that existing medications could be used to treat certain types of bowel and stomach cancers.

(Medical Xpress)—Stomach and bowel cancer, two of the most common cancers worldwide, could be treated with a class of medicines that are currently used to treat a blood disorder, a Melbourne research team has discovered.

The finding, in preclinical models, that medicines called 'JAK inhibitors' reduce the growth of inflammation-associated stomach and bowel cancer provides the first evidence supporting their use in treating these cancers.

JAK inhibitors are currently used to treat the cancer-like condition myelofibrosis, and are being investigated in clinical trials for the treatment of conditions including leukaemia, lymphoma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Emma Stuart, Dr Tracy Putoczki and Associate Professor Matthias Ernst from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute made the discovery with colleagues while at the Melbourne-Parkville Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Associate Professor Ernst is also currently a Ludwig Member. Their findings have been published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Dr Stuart said the discovery stemmed from the research team's long interest in the links between inflammation and cancers of the . "Recently we have begun to unravel the complex signaling that occurs in inflamed tissues, such as when a person has a stomach ulcer or suffers from , and how this drives cancer development," she said.

"By understanding the molecules that are involved in promoting the survival and growth of cancer cells, we have been able to identify which of these molecules can be targeted with potential anti-cancer treatments. In this case, we determined that proteins called JAKs are involved in cancer formation in the stomach and bowel. It was exciting to discover that when JAKs were blocked with existing medications (JAK inhibitors), bowel and growth in experimental models was slowed, and many of the were killed," Dr Stuart said.

Associate Professor Ernst said the findings were significant as JAK inhibitors were already available and had shown success in clinical trials, particularly for treating cancer-like blood conditions.

"Our team's research has uncovered several proteins that could be valuable targets in treating cancers of the digestive tract," he said. "The reason this discovery is particularly exciting is clinical trials have already shown that JAK proteins can be safely and successfully inhibited in patients. We hope this will expedite bringing our research to possible that may improve the outlook for people with stomach and ," Associate Professor Ernst said.

Explore further: 'Dark-horse' molecule is a potential new anti-cancer target

More information: "Therapeutic Inhibition of Jak Activity Inhibits Progression of Gastrointestinal Tumors in Mice." Emma Stuart, Michael Buchert, Tracy Putoczki, Stefan Thiem, Ryan Farid, Joachim Elzer, Dennis Huszar, Paul M. Waring, Toby J. Phesse, and Matthias Ernst. Mol Cancer Ther Published OnlineFirst January 7, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0583-T

Related Stories

'Dark-horse' molecule is a potential new anti-cancer target

August 12, 2013
Australian researchers have identified a molecule called interleukin-11 as a potential new target for anti-cancer therapies.

Potential new treatment for gastrointestinal cancers discovered

January 17, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers have identified a complex of proteins that promotes the growth of some types of colon and gastric cancers, and shown that medications that block the function of this complex have the potential ...

Survival protein a potential new target for many cancers

January 7, 2014
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have discovered a promising strategy for treating cancers that are caused by one of the most common cancer-causing changes in cells.

Double dose of genes can trigger poor cancer survival

January 23, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Cancer Research UK scientists have shown that accidental DNA doubling in bowel cancer cells could predict which patients have potentially poor survival and help doctors plan their treatment, according to ...

New type of molecular switch could turn up the volume on bowel cancer treatment

November 5, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A new type of molecular switch can boost common chemotherapy drugs to destroy bowel cancer cells, according to research presented today (Monday) at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Liverpool.

Recommended for you

Clear link between heavy vitamin B intake and lung cancer

August 22, 2017
New research suggests long-term, high-dose supplementation with vitamins B6 and B12—long touted by the vitamin industry for increasing energy and improving metabolism—is associated with a two- to four-fold increased lung ...

Study provides insight into link between two rare tumor syndromes

August 22, 2017
UCLA researchers have discovered that timing is everything when it comes to preventing a specific gene mutation in mice from developing rare and fast-growing cancerous tumors, which also affects young children. This mutation ...

Retaining one normal BRCA gene in breast, ovarian cancers influences patient survival

August 22, 2017
Determining which cancer patients are likely to be resistant to initial treatment is a major research effort of oncologists and laboratory scientists. Now, ascertaining who might fall into that category may become a little ...

Study identifies miR122 target sites in liver cancer and links a gene to patient survival

August 22, 2017
A new study of a molecule that regulates liver-cell metabolism and suppresses liver-cancer development shows that the molecule interacts with thousands of genes in liver cells, and that when levels of the molecule go down, ...

Zebrafish larvae could be used as 'avatars' to optimize personalized treatment of cancer

August 21, 2017
Portuguese scientists have for the first time shown that the larvae of a tiny fish could one day become the preferred model for predicting, in advance, the response of human malignant tumors to the various therapeutic drugs ...

Scientists discover vitamin C regulates stem cell function, curbs leukemia development

August 21, 2017
Not much is known about stem cell metabolism, but a new study from the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has found that stem cells take up unusually high levels of vitamin C, which then ...

0 comments

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.