~ Calcium's Mechanism in Slowing Colorectal Cancer Growth Discovered

It has been known for years that calcium plays a role in the prevention of colon polyps and cancer. A report published in the February 10 2003 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that a bacterial toxin that causes traveler's diarrhea previously shown to slow colon cancer growth opens a cellular door to allow calcium into tumor cells. This slows the growth of the tumor cells, although it does not destroy them.

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia had found that the toxin interfaces with a receptor known as GCC on the cell surface of metastatic colon cancer cells. This slows their growth and spread by lengthening the time of cell cycle growth. In the current study, the researchers discovered how this occurs.

Assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, GianMario Pitari, MD, PhD, explained, "Dietary calcium is the mediator of this antiproliferative effect. Now, we show that one of the mechanisms by which dietary calcium works is through this pathway. The toxin activates the receptor, GCC, causing an opening of a channel and an influx of calcium into the tumor cell. This influx causes a reduction of cancer cell growth. Somehow there is an interaction between the toxin and dietary calcium in blocking the growth of the tumor. The mechanism by which this occurs is very specific and a completely new pathway. No one has linked this pathway to antiproliferation and inhibition of tumor DNA synthesis . . . We think you can use the toxin as an intravenous infusion to treat cancer metastases. The toxin will not cross the intestinal lumen, meaning there won't be the side effects of diarrhea."

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