New therapeutic strategy will fight cancer cells with single-cell genetic mutations

A single-cell genetic mutation is the point of no return for cancer cells. New research from the University of Copenhagen has added new information about how cancer cells adapt to changes in their genome. A piece of information that has already played a significant role in the evolution of cancer that can be used to construct biological circuits in the growing cell.

Cancer cells are very sensitive to changes in the genome in particular DNA mutations and therefore cancer cells present an important therapeutic target. Therefore cancer cells that want to revert back to their original function quickly have to be eliminated.

More and more evidence has been accumulated that shows that cancer cells move into the colon because this is the place in which most tumor cells spread throughout the healing area of the gastrointestinal tract. However it has been a complete mystery to us how cancer cells can cope with the challenges that gastrointestinal tumor cells present.

In a study the University of Copenhagen researchers have now shown that cancer cells carry a genetic mutation in the DAAS1 gene and thus begin to form circuits in the colon through the relocation of cancer cells from the opening of the tumor to the other side of the GI tract.

This research is the first time that such a detailed genetic mutation has been recorded between the two different epithelial cell populations in the colon-the gastrointestinal tract and the lung-and that cancer cells have adapted to the new mutation and can now come back says Associate Professor Dakti Kosil stiplensis researcher at the University of Copenhagen and one of the two principal investigators behind the study.

The researchers have gone on to show that the mutation the cancer cells have had was present in the intestines as well. Common cancer-causing mutations occur in genes that control different aspects of the cell receptor for myeloid-derived suppressor (MDS) cells.

Research for this article was published in Nature Genetics and has recently been published in Cell Reports.