A new potential target protein called c-Cbl has been recently discovered by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers that can possibly help them further understand the nature of colon cancer and the survival of patients with this disease.
Although this specific protein has been analysed in other types of cancer, it is only now that it has been examined in colon cancer.
The research team observed that colon cancer patients with high levels of c-Cbl lived longer than those with low c-Cbl.
The level of c-Cbl in tumors that were removed from colon cancer patients were examined.
The patients involved in the study were divided in two groups based on their level of c-Cbl: the low c-Cbl group and the high c-Cbl group.
The study aims to determine what happens to cells when the c-Cbl protein was shut off.
Two types of colon cancer cells split into three distinctive groups were used.
The first group had untampered colon cancer cells. The second group consisted of the increased expression of normal version c-Cbl, while the last group possessed the “off” version.
It was found that the “off” version of the protein lacked a crucial function, known as ubiquitin ligase activity.
The cells with the “off” version of c-Cbl grew more tumors compared to those with the “on” version c-Cbl version.
Tumors need blood vessels to grow and metastasize. Three experimental models were used to examine how c-Cbl impacted blood vessel growth.
One group was provided with c-Cbl protein. Another was given the “off” version of the protein, while another group was normal.
The scientists observed that the model with the “off” version of c-Cbl grew more blood vessels.
“This helps us to understand the role of the ubiquitin ligase activity of c-Cbl in preventing tumors from growing and reducing tumor’s ability to grow blood vessels,” said corresponding author Dr. Vipul Chitalia, associate professor of medicine at BUSM.
Researchers stated that c-Cbl has the potential to improve the survival of colon cancer patients.
“This information will help cancer researchers understand colon cancer better and possibly design new treatments to better cure colon cancer and help patients live longer.”
The findings of this study were published in the American Journal of Pathology.