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Hormones Might Help Treat Colon Cancer

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 1 -- Hormone deficiency is a prime cause of colon cancer, which means that it may be possible to treat the disease with hormone replacement therapy, a new study suggests.

In experiments with mice, a team at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, focused on GCC (guanylyl cyclase C), a protein receptor on the surface of intestinal epithelial cells. They looked specifically at two hormones, guanylin and uroguanylin, which regulate the growth of intestinal epithelial cells.

Reporting in the Aug. 1 issue of Gastroenterology, the researchers found that GCC helped suppress colon tumor formation in mice.

Study author Dr. Scott Waldman, professor and chair of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at Jefferson Medical College, noted that early in colon cancer development, the hormones guanylin and uroguanylin are "lost" and not expressed. This disrupts the activity of GCC.

The study finding "converts colon cancer from a genetic disease, which is the way we've all thought about it, to a disease of hormone insufficiency," Waldman said in a prepared statement.

"Not only does this give a new paradigm in how we think about the disease, but it give us a new paradigm for treating the disease -- that is, by hormone replacement therapy," he said.

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Posted: August 2007