Colon Cancer Gene Discovered

Cancer growth gene identified
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2008 6:00 AM CDT
Katie Couric and actor Steve Schirripa take part in a celebrity bowling fundraiser for colon cancer research. New research has identified a gene that contributes to colon cancer development.   (AP Photo/Bob Jones, National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance)
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(Newser) – Researchers have discovered a key gene that may contribute to the growth of colon cancer and could provide a target for new therapies, Bloomberg reports. The gene, CDK8, controls a cell growth switch that researchers think might spur the development of many tumors. The discovery may help up to 50% of people with colon cancer, researchers predict.

“There's a definite unmet medical need in colon cancer,” said one scientist. The disease is expected to kill about 49,000 Americans this year. Testing is already under way on more than 100 drugs that target genes similar to CDK8, which also contribute to abnormal cell growth. Several companies have expressed interested in developing CDK8 inhibitors.