OU researchers working with protein that may help prevent colon cancer
A protein that helps protect normal cell division could be the key for conquering colon cancer, according to researchers at OU Health Sciences Center's Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City.
The protein is called Shugoshin-1 (SGO 1) and is found naturally in humans and other organisms. SGO 1 protects another protein, Cohesin, which helps with normal cell division, according to center researcher Hiroshi Yamada.
“If there is no Cohesin, chromosomes can wander around in the cell during mitosis [normal cell division], and that can cause defects or mutations in daughter cells — leading to cancer,” Yamada said.
Researchers theorized that SGO 1 may help prevent tumor formation. Yamada and colleagues showed that a SGO 1 deficiency in laboratory models disrupted normal cell division. These models had more colon tumor growth and an increase in chromosomal instability.
These tests demonstrate a causal relationship between SGO 1 and the development of cancerous tumors of the colon, according to researchers. The findings could be used to monitor colon-cancer risk.
“Developing a diagnostic kit that assesses one’s risk for colon cancer and other cancers is a possible future application,” Yamada said. The kit would not be available for several years.
Global interest in SGO 1 began in 2004, and OU researchers began working with SGO 1 in 2008 in collaboration with a researcher at NYU, Yamada said. Yamada’s team is applying for state funding specializing in Oklahoma based research to continue their work.