Washington, June 18: A mice study has suggested that a compound that for about 60 years has been used as a drug against tapeworm infection is also apparently effective against colon cancer metastasis.
The compound silences a gene that triggers the formation of metastases in colon cancer, which is one of the most common tumour diseases in Western countries
Scientists have known for several years that the gene S100A4/metastasin can initiate colon cancer metastasis. Five years ago Professor Ulrike Stein (Experimental and Clinical Research Center, a joint cooperation between the Charitu Medical Faculty and the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, (MDC)), working together with Professor Peter M. Schlag (Charite Comprehensive Cancer Center) and Professor Walter Birchmeier (MDC), showed how this gene is regulated.
They found that the beta-catenin gene, when mutant, activates this S100A4/metastasin gene, thus triggering colon cancer metastasis. Beta-catenin normally regulates cellular adhesion.
The scientists looked for compounds that block the expression of the metastas in gene. They screened 1280 compounds and found what they were looking for: niclosamide, a drug until now approved for use to treat intestinal parasite infections from tapeworms.
urprisingly, the researchers discovered that niclosamide inhibits the beta catenin-driven expression of the S100A4/metastasin gene, both in the cell culture and in mice. The animals had fewer metastases.
The study has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (ANI)