Colon cancer researcher finds new treatment for deadly disease

When colon cancer spreads, it often ends up in the liver, where surgery can be complicated, even impossible. That’s why research in the University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy proving the efficacy of a new class of cancer drugs is so significant.

The five-year study showed that a new colon cancer drug, developed by Columbia-based Senex Biotechnology, suppressed the growth of colon cancer metastases in the liver.

Igor Roninson, SmartState Chair in Translational Cancer Therapeutics in the College of Pharmacy, says his team’s research findings offer new hope for patients with inoperable liver metastases.

“It depends on where the tumors are located in the liver in relation to the major blood vessels; sometimes it’s quite impossible to remove the cancer surgically,” says Roninson.

Metastatic cancer has proven to be much more resistant to chemotherapy than primary cancers.

The new colon cancer drug appears to suppress tumors that have spread to the liver. Roninson’s research, conducted in collaboration with the university’s Center for Colon Cancer Research, showed that the new drug attacks CDK8, a protein that can transform normal colon cells into cancerous cells.

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with about 150,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

“At the Center for Colon Cancer Research, we have a strong core group of individuals who are dedicated to curing colorectal cancer,” says Lorne Hofseth, a pharmacy professor and the center’s interim director. “Dr. Roninson’s findings will have a great impact in advancing the treatment of this disease.”

Once the FDA approves the drug, Roninson and his researchers will begin clinical studies to further determine its effectiveness and possible enhancement with other drug combinations.

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