This could be a breakthrough for colon cancer prevention.
Researchers at the Australian National University have learned how to use medicine to activate a cancer-blocking protein that can clear harmed DNA from the body “like a light switch.”
“In its activated state, the protein acts like a surveillance system, detecting signs of damaged DNA in our cells,” researcher Dr. Abhimanu Pandey said of protein Ku70.
He added that “damaged DNA” is a typically early warning sign that cells can become cancerous. Ku70 has the potential to reverse or at least halt the damage.
“Our research shows that Ku70 can ‘cool off’ cancer cells and mop up damaged DNA. The protein prevents the cancer cells from becoming more aggressive and spreading throughout the body, essentially deactivating them and keeping them in a dormant state.”
In the United States, 126,240 cases of colorectal cancer were reported to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention in 2020.
It claimed the lives of 51,869 that year.
In Australia where the research was conducted, 100 people die weekly from a form of bowel cancer, according to the study.
However, 90% of cases could be successfully treated if caught early on, according to the data, now published in Science Advances.
“We know early detection and treatment is vital to overcoming not only bowel cancer but potentially other cancers as well,” researcher Si Ming Man Man said.
Man added that screening for cancers like that of the colon may soon include checking for Ku70 levels.
“Our research shows Ku70 is a good immune biomarker, meaning it helps us predict who will fare better or worse after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.”