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Novel Colon Cancer Therapy

After finding and patenting a new therapy for colon cancer, Dominique Joubert and Frédéric Hollande, both from IGF in Montpellier,1 have launched the BioRéalités startup. Colon cancer claims 500,000 lives every year. Current therapies, often hampered by late detection and severe side effects, have done little so far to cure this disease. Chemotherapy does not always eradicate the entire tumor and does not specifically target the body’s cancerous cells. Indeed, 50% of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer experience relapses linked to metastatic tumor growths, and die within the following five years. While looking for a method to specifically target colorectal cancer cells, Joubert and Hollande stumbled on progastrin, a hormonal precursor molecule normally absent in the plasma of healthy individuals, but secreted in high quantities by tumor cells. It turns out that progastrin could be much more than a simple diagnostic molecule. Joubert and Hollande showed that the secretion of progastrin amplified tumor growth and aggressiveness.2 They managed to obtain a significant decrease in the size of intestinal tumors in animals by using specific antibodies to block the action of progastrin. In other words, while detecting progastrin could pave the way for better colon cancer diagnoses, blocking the molecule helps curb tumor growth and opens the way to a new, potentially less invasive therapy. BioRéalités now aims to develop a progastrin targeted therapy. The development of therapeutic tools and the acquisition of preclinical data are currently in progress.

Lucille Hagège

Notes :

1. Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle (CNRS / Inserm / Universités de Montpellier-I and II)
2. J. Pannequin et al., “Beta-Catenin/Tcf-4 Inhibition After Progastrin Targeting Reduces Growth and Drives Differentiation of Intestinal Tumors,” Gastroenterology, 2007. 133: 1554-68

Contacts :

IGF, Montpellier.
> Dominique Joubert
> Frédéric Hollande


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