Around two years ago we wrote about research from scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, partly funded by Cancer Research UK, who discovered that a molecule called LOX (lysyl oxidase) plays an important role in the spread of breast cancer around the body.
Now the same team, led by Dr Janine Erler, has shown that LOX also helps bowel cancer cells to grow and spread. As we covered in our news feed last week, their experiments reveal that LOX exerts its effects by switching on another molecule called Src.
Importantly, a drug already exists that can stop Src in its tracks – dasatinib, which is already used to treat people with leukaemia. These new results suggest that dasatinib could benefit people with advanced bowel cancer whose tumours have high levels of LOX – an idea that would need testing in clinical trials.
It may sometimes seem that stories about advances in cancer research hit the headlines then vanish without trace. In reality, every big discovery is preceded and followed by a huge amount of painstaking research, which gets lost in the media scramble. The latest results from Erler and her team tell another chapter in the story of LOX, and are another small step on the road to beating cancer.
- Science Upodate blog: The LOX enzyme – Preparing the ground for cancer spread
- Pharma Times: ICR researchers find new target for bowel cancer drugs
Baker AM et al (2011). The Role of Lysyl Oxidase in SRC-Dependent Proliferation and Metastasis of Colorectal Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute PMID: 21282564
Image courtesy of the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute Electron Microscopy Unit