A new research by the researchers from Queen’s University Belfast might be able to change the outcome of survival in patients with bowel cancer across the world. The study is considered first of its kind and has been funded by The Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast via Tom Moran Scholarship.
The therapeutic treatment could target and decimate bowel cancer cells. It can improve the survival rate for patients diagnosed with very poor survival outcome. The research includes the examination of gene signatures to investigate Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), which is a stress-response pathway pertaining to a bunch of cells. This UPR could be utilized to treat bowel cancer in cases in which patients have become resistant to treatments or have a poor survival outcome.
The study focused on two groups of these bowel cancer patients after a year of their diagnosis, one of which did well as compared to the other which had a poor outcome. They focused on the human gene, Braf, consisting of a protein called B-Raf. It sends a signal from the cell surface for cell growth and survival. When this gene is mutated, it makes these cells cancerous.
Braf mutants are not as aggressive as other cancerous cells but the catch is that they do not get treated well by conventional cancer therapies and treatments. However, a cellular process has been discovered by the researchers that might be exploitable to the cause. As per Dr. Nicholas Forsythe, the lead researcher, the aggressive biology of these cancers can be utilized against them.
UPR is a pathway that enables cells to survive through stressful periods. However, this pathway is hijacked by highly stressed cancer cells for their survival. The researchers were able to overload this process by stressing the cells to such a point that they killed themselves (apoptosis), by the use of a specific drugs combination.
Hence, the unique research is good news for patients with bowel cancer. This research has paved way for more clinical trials testing the effectiveness of such drug agents to enhance survival outcome of patients with BRAFMT colorectal cancerous tumors. A pursuit for synthesizing new drugs based on this study is underway.