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Researchers discovered new potential treatment for gastrointestinal cancers

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Researchers discovered new potential treatment for gastrointestinal cancers

According to a study published online today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, gastrointestinal cancers could benefit from a new treatment. Latest research conducted by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia, reveals that by blocking a complex of proteins that promote the growth of gastrointestinal cancers associated with inflammation,  the disease could be eradicated.

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Gastrointestinal Cancer

This newly identified protein complex, mTorc1 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1) is also involved in the development of other cancers, but this is the first time it has been shown to be involved in inflammatory pathology of gastric cancer and colon cancer. Gastrointestinal cancer is an important cause of mortality  in Australia and worldwide. Colon cancer is first in terms of digestive malignancies and is the second leading cause of cancer mortality. Regarding other gastrointestinal cancer, although the incidence declined in recent years, gastric cancer is the second most common gastrointestinal malignancy.

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein that regulates the growth, development, cell motility and protein synthesis in cells. It seems that mTOR is involved in many diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, glycogen storage disease (GSD) etc.. Therefore, mTOR inhibition is a therapeutic target for treating various cancers or severe age-associated diseases (Alzheimer’s disease).

Associate Professor Ernst, from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, said that there are several types of colon cancer and gastric cancer that are associated with inflammation. He added that the immune system response has already been shown to cause tumor growth. In the digestive system, inflammatory processes such as gastritis and colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease, increase the risk for developing gastrointestinal tumors. It seems that inflammation leads to activation of mTorc1, which further trigger the mechanisms that lead to tumor growth. In recent years much attention has been given to mTorc1 inhibitors as many cancers are dependent on the activity of this protein complex.

The researchers believe that inflammation-associated colon and gastric cancers may benefit from treatment with inhibitors mTorc1. Associate Professor Ernst said that this treatment is already in clinical trials for other cancers and that the experiments on laboratory animals had promising results. Although research on mTOR inhibitors are still under investigation, researchers hope to identify in future new treatments to eradicate gastrointestinal cancers associated with inflammation: “Since there are also other types of cancer that are associated with inflammation, we suspect that these could also be susceptible to treatment with mTorc1 inhibitors,” Ernst said.