Liège researchers report breakthrough in colon cancer treatment
Thursday, 13 February 2020
"Digital medical illustration: Perspective x-ray view of human colon with tumor. Anatomically correct. Isolated on black.For other cancer related-and general anatomy images, see:"
A team of cancer researchers from the Liège university hospital have reported a promising new direction in the treatment of colon cancer.
The discovery was made by a young PhD student, Justine Bellier, who is attached to the hospital’s Research Laboratory on Metastases, led by Professor Vincenzo Castronovo and Dr. Akeila Bellahcène. It concerns a molecule, called carnosine, which is produced in the body and which can remove the resistance of cancer cells to therapeutic agents.
“We are suggesting carnosine, which is a natural molecule, can be associated with existing therapies,” Dr. Bellahcène told the RTBF. “This is a molecule that is used to treat certain complications, most usually in diabetics, as it combats a toxic product associated with the metabolism of glucose, called methylglyoxal. We were able to test the effects of the molecule on blocking the growth of colon cancers. It causes the tumour, which is normally resistant to targetted treatments, to be made vulnerable again. And its use brings no toxicity, while providing a guaranteed therapeutic benefit.”
Cancer of the colon is one of the most common cancers in Belgium, and also one of the most lethal. Therapies exist, but their success rate is limited; the best hope for the patient lies in early detection, which is why persons of a certain age are advised to have a colonoscopy at regular intervals.
“We’re certain that as this is a natural molecule, [treatment] could go faster and the benefits be felt by patients sooner,” Dr. Bellahcène said. “All the same, there remain tests to be carried out before we can confirm its use on cancer patients.”