Cancer Suppressing Gene Actually Spreads Colorectal Cancer

January 4, 2016
Amy Jacob

The gene Sprouty 2, previously thought to subdue the growth of cancer, has actually been found to speed up the spread of colorectal cancer.

The gene Sprouty 2, previously thought to subdue the growth of cancer, has actually been found to speed up the spread of colorectal cancer.

Sharad Khare, PhD, associate professor of research, University of Missouri School of Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, said, “The gene known as Sprouty 2 has previously been shown to protect against metastasis, or the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body, in breast, prostate, and liver cancer. However, our recent molecular studies found that this gene may actually help promote metastasis instead of suppress it.”

For a three-year period, Khare and colleagues analyzed Sprouty 2 in cancer cell models, mouse models, and human biopsy samples.

The team noticed Sprouty 2 worked differently in colorectal cancer than in the other types of cancers. While Sprouty 2 was known to block molecular circuits to prevent cancer cells from spreading, the researchers found that in colorectal cancer, the gene was increasing the metastatic ability rather than quelling it — something that often occurs when the gene is up-regulated or supercharged.

According to Khare, “This finding is a very significant step in our understanding of metastasis in colorectal cancer, but it’s important to note that we believe this phenomenon may occur in only a subset of colorectal cancer patients. We don’t yet know why this is the case, but we hope to determine if there is a correlation between the up-regulation of this gene and the life expectancy of patients with colorectal cancer. Future studies will help us understand who may be at risk, and ultimately, if personalized treatments can be planned to target this gene.”