Posted tagged ‘Bowel Cancer’

Study Finds Stem Cells May Contribute to Bowel Cancer

January 27, 2015

stem cell pic Australian researchers recently announced their theory that stem cells drive the growth of bowel cancer. Professor Tony Burgess of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Dr. Chin Wee Tan, and their colleagues uncovered evidence that stem cells have a key role in the maintenance and generation of the “crypts” that are a part of the bowel lining. The researchers believe that these stem cells contribute to the development of bowel cancer.

Through 3D imaging, the researchers demonstrated that the bowel produces new intestinal crypts through a process known as “budding.” In each crypt, 300 cells die each day and are subsequently replaced. Intestinal “crypts,” which are wells in the wall of the bowel, absorb water and nutrients and create mucous.

Dr. Tan said the team’s research showed a connection between bowel cancer and crypt “budding.” In healthy intestinal development, each regenerating crypt creates one bud at a time. However, he said that in precancerous and cancerous bowel tumors, a number of buds are connected with one crypt, and there is a lot of uncontrollable budding. He said that this suggests that the genes that direct the budding process may be absent, leading to the development of bowel cancer.

Burgess said that while stem cells are silent in a normal bowel, they probably instigate bowel cancer. He said that the reason that the stem cells are causing uncontrollable budding is linked to the APC (adenomatous polyposis coli) gene. Approximately 85 percent of cases of bowel cancer involve the absence of APC function and an overabundance of crypt budding. APC is necessary to curb crypt production and to help bowel stem cells adhere to one another. The loss of APC leads to cancerous and precancerous tumors, Burgess said.

He said that in order to more effectively target bowel cancer, further research is necessary to find out how to eliminate stem cells that lack the APC gene.