Australian researchers find causes for onset of bowel cancer

December 16, 2014 11:55 pm 

MELBOURNE, Dec. 16 — Australian researchers have identified an early cause for bowel cancer and how it resists cancer treatment, boosting chances of better treatment of the disease.

On Tuesday, scientists from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne said they had identified how a two-part protective " braking system" in the body failed in bowel cancer cells, causing the onset and acceleration of the disease.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Australia. Each week, 75 Australian die from bowel cancer while another 305 are newly-diagnosed.

Scientists have long known that chromosomal instability in bowel cancer helped it develop, but until now have been at a loss to explain how the instability starts.

Professor Rob Ramsay, lead researcher and head of the cancer cell biology program at Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, said the breakthrough relates to cancers in 85 percent of people without family history of the disease.

"Previously, in most bowel cancers, we thought this instability built up randomly over time as cancer cells evolved, while a signaling network, called the Wnt pathway, held cells back from chromosome chaos," Ramsay said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Now we have proven this instability begins immediately with the breakdown of the Wnt pathway, which occurs in two steps and sets off an unstoppable acceleration of disease."

"Just as the loss of firstly the handbrake, followed by the secondary loss of a foot brake, both combine to allow a car to career down a hill."

In a matter of a few days, there is a "visibly stark" change in cells as they become cancerous and the dramatic changes allow the cancer to decide and outflank cancer treatments.

The culmination of five years' work, the findings could see current chemotherapy treatment employed earlier and the development of new methods. (PNA/Xinhua)



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