This new therapy may help stop the spread of bowel cancer

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In a new study, researchers found that gene therapy could be an option to help people with metastatic bowel cancer.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Adelaide and elsewhere.

Like most cancers, bowel cancer is surrounded by many normal cells that are corrupted to support cancer growth.

The team has been studying why some of these supportive cells (fibroblasts) assist cancer growth, while others actively work to stop it.

They found in bowel cancer, patients with the poorest prognosis have a lot of corrupted or bad tumor supporting fibroblasts.

Bad fibroblasts can promote abnormal growth of the tumor cells, while good fibroblasts slow tumor growth and reduce tumor spread.

The new study shows how cancers corrupt fibroblasts to support their growth and that virally-delivered gene therapy is able to reproduce good fibroblast signals within the tumor environment.

The team generated a new gene therapy to deliver good fibroblast signals directly to the supporting cells.

They found the treatment works by injecting a virus that exclusively targets the liver.

This generates more of the good cancer support cell signals in that organ, shrinking the tumor and ultimately extending lifespan.

This sort of gene therapy has been used to treat blood disease in humans, but never in cancer.

The next step is to see whether this treatment is valuable for other cancers that also spread to the liver, such as lung and breast cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers, like oesophageal, stomach, and pancreas.

One author of the study is Dr. Susan Woods.

The study is published in Gastroenterology.

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