When activated TCF7L2 prevented malignant cells from growing, according to PNAS paper.

A protein thought to promote colorectal cancer in animal models actually suppresses the growth of human cancer cells in culture, report researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Previous work showed that approximately 90% of colorectal cancers are caused by a biochemical malfunction caused by mutations that activate a gene called TCF7L2, explains Lawrence Lum, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell biology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. Hence, TCF7L2 has been suspected as a trigger for colorectal cancer.

In the current study the investigators mixed more than 80,000 siRNAs with engineered human cancer cells that glowed when a cancer-causing malfunction was activated. They unexpectedly found that TCF7L2 suppressed the growth of malignant cells. When the gene was inactivated, human colorectal cancer cells grew more rapidly in culture and emitted a stronger glow.

These findings are published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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