New drug target for bowel cancer found

Researchers have found a new drug target for the treatment of colorectal cancer, in the form of a key protein that supports the growth of many types of bowel cancers.
The study, published in the Journal of Cell Biology, shows that a protein called Importin-11 transports the cancer-causing protein betacatenin into the nucleus of colon cancer cells, where it can drive cell proliferation.
Inhibiting this transport step could block the growth of most colorectal cancers caused by elevated betacatenin levels, according to the researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada.
Around 80 per cent of colorectal cancers are associated with mutations in a gene called APC that result in elevated levels of the betacatenin protein.
This increase in betacatenin is followed by the protein’s accumulation in the cell nucleus, where it can activate numerous genes that drive cell proliferation and promote the growth and maintenance of colorectal tumours. However, how betacatenin enters the cell nucleus after its levels rise is poorly understood. (PTI)

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