Bowel Cancer Stem Cell Discovery

Scientists have identified the rogue stem cells in the intestines that cause bowel cancer. That discovery should make it possible to find this type of cancer in the earliest stages when a cure is most possible.
Knowing which cells cause the cancer researchers hope that if they can be killed tumours that threaten life will never be able to form.

Professor Malcolm Alison, from Barts and The London School of Medicine, says that normally stem cells line the inside of the gut. The cells repair and replace tissue that digestion wears away. For an unknown reason those stem cells can mutate and produce cancer cells.

Sky News reports:

“Early detection would make treatment much easier, less invasive and much more effective,” Professor Alison said.

“It may be possible to kill these abnormal stem cells by triggering them to self destruct.”

It is expected that within three years drug trials will begin to destroy the abnormal cells.

More than 100 people a day are diagnosed in the UK with bowel cancer. Almost half of those will die from the disease.

In Canada colorectal cancer kills about 163 Canadians a week.

CIHR reports:

“It is estimated that 20,000 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and an estimated 8,500 will die from the disease” states Dr. Philip Branton, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Cancer (ICR) based in Montreal. “We need more research to improve colorectal cancer screening in Canada.”

One of the priorities of CIHR-ICR is to make early detection of cancer one of its strategic research priorities.

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