Colon cancer tissue is known to contain increased levels of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2).
As a result, compounds that block the action of this enzyme, such as celecoxib, have been tested for their ability to treat colon cancer.
Now, scientists at the University of California, Irvine, USA, have discovered a new mechanism by which these drugs might be effective against colon cancer.
| E2, produced by COX-2, activates epidermal growth factor receptor.
| Nature Medicine |
Andrzej Tarnawski and colleagues examined cells from human colon cancer cell lines.
They discovered that the molecule prostaglandin E2, which is produced by the action of COX-2, activates epidermal growth factor receptor. This in turn causes cell proliferation.
Understanding how prostaglandins cause cancer growth, and how their effects can be blocked, will pave the way for the development of new anticancer medicines.