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January 9, 2008

Scientists Discover Receptor’s Role in Colorectal Cancer

  • A receptor on the surface of colorectal cancer cells is involved in tumor growth, researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center discovered. Neuropilin-2 (NRP2) is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor. Recently, VEGFs have been shown to directly affect cancer cells not necessarily through blood vessels.

    The M. D. Anderson team assessed the expression of NRP2 in colorectal cancer cells. They found that this receptor was expressed in primary and metastatic cancers but was not detectable in surrounding noncancerous tissue. Blocking NRP2 reportedly reduced cell growth, migration, and invasiveness as well as tumor growth. The researchers also say that inhibiting NRP2 was effective in treating tumors in mice.

    “The use of anti-NRP2 therapeutic targeting in conjunction with anti-VEGF therapy may improve on existing antiangiogenesis treatments and may provide a unique opportunity to circumvent the ability of NRP2-expressing tumors such as colorectal cancers to grow and metastasize,” the authors wrote in their paper published online on January 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.