Scientists find possible target to eliminate colorectal cancer

Scientists think they have found the Achilles Heel for colorectal cancer. It's in a marker called ABCB5 and, according to researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, if you target and eliminate it, you just might get rid of the cancer itself. The marker may represent a kind of Holy Grail being sought by those who believe in the "cancer stem cell" hypothesis, which says that a fraction of tumor cells have characteristics of normal cells. That means they can self-renew and to give rise to other cell types. Get rid of the "cancer stem cell," and get rid of the tumor. Otherwise, it will act as a seed for tumor regrowth. "With ABCB5, we have a molecule that is present at higher levels in colorectal cancers than in healthy cells, that marks the subset of cancer stem cells in human patients that will resist therapy, and that mediates that resistance at a functional level," said Markus Frank, of Harvard Medical School. "We think that these are the cells that need to be eliminated for successful treatment of colorectal cancer," adds Natasha Frank of Children's Hospital. Release | Abstract

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