Unlikely Protein Boosts Metastatic Colon Cancer Growth

Researchers have identified an unlikely protein that enables colon cancer to flourish and thrive once it has spread or "metastasized" to the liver. They suggest this protein could be a potential target for blocking the growth of metastatic colon cancers. The protein, called periostin, is normally produced by bone cells, but the researchers found unexpectedly high levels of periostin within colon cancer cells that had spread to the liver. Upon closer examination, they discovered that periostin enabled cancer cells to escape their intended demise and to survive under the most hostile conditions, with reduced nourishment or oxygen. Moreover, periostin induced the growth of blood vessels near the tumor that would ultimately feed its growth, a process known as angiogenesis.

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