|Higher levels of PAT4 in colorectal cancer tumors |
(brown staining in B) are linked to worse patient outcome.
(Credit: Oxford University)
Researchers have identified a protein, called PAT4, used by tumours to help them detect food supplies. Initial studies show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells' ability to grow.
Cancer cells often have restricted access to the body's nutrient-rich blood supply. The ability to sense and acquire nutrients is critical for a cancer to grow.
The researchers developed an antibody that could be used to highlight PAT4 in human tissue samples. This was then used to study anonymous tumour samples taken from patients with colorectal cancer, a common form of the disease.
The results were compared to the known outcomes for the patients. Those who had higher levels of PAT4 in their tumours did less well than those with lower levels - being more likely to relapse and die.
The researchers then looked at what happened when PAT4 levels were reduced. They showed that by reducing the levels, cancerous tumours grew more slowly.
'These findings support each other. Not only do higher levels of PAT4 mean a worse outcome, but lowering levels improves the situation. This means that we have identified a mechanism, which cancer cells prefer to use and which we might be able to target as part of a combination treatment,' the researchers concluded.
Based on material originally posted by University of Oxford.