The molecular connection between chronic inflammation and DNA methylation, a process that shuts down cancer-fighting genes, may eventually lead to more effective therapies for treating and preventing colorectal cancer, say scientists at MD Anderson whose study appeared online in the journal Nature Medicine.
Senior author Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., provost and executive vice president at MD Anderson, says that before this study, "nobody had made a molecular connection between inflammatory mediators and changes in gene expression or silencing of genes through effects on DNA methylation."
The study used two drugs approved for human use, Celebrex® and Vidaza®. were used in animal models. Researchers found that prostaglandin E2, a chemical that promotes inflammation, accelerates colorectal cancer development by shutting down genes that suppress tumors and repair DNA.
Funding was from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.