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Combination drug therapy may safely kill precancerous colon polyps

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the combination therapy of two distinct drugs is capable of killing precancerous colon polyps while leaving normal tissue unaffected.

Senior author Xiangwei Wu believes the regimen, which has only been tested in mouse models and on human colon cancer tissue in the lab, may one day act as a substitute for chemopreventive drugs, which expose patients to numerous side effects.

Wu and his colleagues found that a combination of Vitamin A acetate (RAc) and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) not only destroyed precancerous polyps, but also inhibited tumor growth in mice with deficient levels of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), a tumor-suppressing gene.

In the study, APC-deficient mice were treated with the RAc/TRAIL combination, either drug alone or with a placebo for six weeks. One month after therapy concluded, control mice and those treated with only one drug averaged between 35 and 42 polyps. In contrast, mice who were treated with the combination therapy averaged only 10 polyps.

"This combination can be given short term and periodically to provide a long-term effect, which would be a new approach to chemoprevention," concluded Wu.

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