Researchers from Case Western Reserve and Dartmouth universities have shown that a class of small antioxidant molecules carries enormous promise for suppressing colon cancer associated with colitis. These findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, offer hope that physicians ultimately will be able to reduce dramatically the number of sufferers of this inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who go on to develop colon cancer.
The molecules, known as synthetic triterpenoids, appear to achieve their positive effect in two ways. First, they impede inflammation, often a flashpoint that contributes to the development of colon cancer. Second, they increase 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH), a gene product that is known at high levels to protect against colon cancer. The oral administration of synthetic triterpenoids showed such success in mice that the researchers believe that clinical trials could demonstrate their efficacy in chemoprevention – that is, the administration of medicine to stop or delay the onset of cancer, rather than treat it.
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