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Researchers identify enzyme biomarker that can diagnose early colon cancer

February 23, 2016

It appears that ALDH1B1 aids the development or growth of these cancer cells because it would not be present in every cell at such high levels if it were simply a byproduct of the cancer. Based on this finding, the enzyme may provide a way to treat the disease, says Ying Chen, PhD, lead author and assistant professor of molecular toxicology at the CU School of Pharmacy.

The team is now studying how this enzyme is up-regulated into colon cancer cells and its exact role in the physiology of the tumor cells, Vasiliou says. The team also is seeking to understand the substrate, inhibitors and activators of ALDH1B1.

"Our efforts are focused on developing a drug that could turn into a toxic compound and kill the cancer cell when acted upon by the enzyme," Vasiliou says. "It would act like a suicide pill, if you will."

Vasiliou's team is collaborating in this work with laboratories at the National Cancer Institute, Scripps Research Institute in California, University of Melbourne in Australia, University of Heidelberg in Germany and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

"This work will be considered a landmark in the understanding of basic metabolic processes within the colon cancer cell," Orlicky says.

Source: University of Colorado Denver