Students Staff

30 June 2014

New insights into the spread of bowel cancer

Colchester Campus

Dr Metodi Metodiev

Dr Metodi Metodiev.

Research by Essex scientists offers new insight into a better understanding of the spread of bowel cancer to other parts of the body.

Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer with more than 15,000 deaths a year and is the fourth most common cancer. In developing countries where people are living longer and not eating as healthily the number of cases is increasing.

Bowel cancer is curable and treatable, but some patients may undergo aggressive chemotherapy and other treatments after surgery which may not have been necessary.

What the scientific team at Essex is hoping to achieve is finding out key characteristics – known as biomarkers – which could determine which tumours are likely to spread so patients get the appropriate treatment for them.

The research, published in the International Journal of Cancer, analysed 9,000 proteins in bowel cancer tumours to see which could be linked to bowel cancer tumours which later spread to other parts of the body.

Thanks to state-of-the-art equipment at the Proteomics Unit in the School of Biological Sciences the scientists were able to measure thousands of proteins quickly and more efficiently that previously possible.

Working with colleagues in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and scientists and clinicians in Erlangen in Germany, the team identified several biomarkers linked to tumours which spread. These biomarkers are important as they could predict the potential likelihood of the cancer spreading.

Dr Metodi Metodiev, who led the team at Essex, said: “Our research is a step forward in having a greater understanding of which tumours are likely to spread so patients can get the appropriate treatment for them.”


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