Adding vemurafenib doubles survival in BRAF metastatic colorectal cancer

The outcomes from a clinical trial presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2017 have shown promising results for the addition of vemurafenib (anti-BRAF) to treatment with cetuximab and irinotecan (anti-EGFR) in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that have a BRAF V600E mutation.

In the randomised trial, 49 patients who received vemurafenib in combination with cetuximab and irinotecan showed median 4.3 months progression-free survival (PFS), compared with 2.0 months median PFS for 50 patients given cetuximab and irinotecan alone.

Post-bariatric mortality higher from rectal cancer, not colon cancer

A study led by researchers in Sweden that patients who has bariatric surgery were more likely to die from rectal cancer, compared to colon cancer. The investigators from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, said that although this was the first study to examine this issue more research is needed before a definite association can be concluded. If the association is true, they state, clinicians should be made aware of the increased risk and poorer prognosis of rectal cancer in patients with prior obesity surgery.

Bacteria breakthrough paves way for improved CRC test

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and other institutions have identified specific types of bacteria that seem to be abundant in individuals with colorectal cancer (CRC). Using a combination of markers specific for these faecal microbes, scientists anticipate that a non-invasive, sensitive clinical diagnostic test potentially can be developed.

Study identifies sulfide-producing bacteria and colon cancer in African-Americans

African-Americans with measurable differences in the number and type of bacteria that live in the colon have a higher-than-average colon cancer risk.

The study, ‘Race-dependent association of sulfidogenic bacteria with colorectal cancer’, reported in the journal Gut, looked at colonic tissue biopsies from 197 African-Americans and 132 non-Hispanic whites collected over a two-year period ending in 2012. The researchers amplified microbial DNA from the samples, then looked at the abundance of various types of microbes.

New molecular targets detected in colorectal cancer cells

Growth of colorectal cancer cells can be inhibited with the odorant troenan, according to research headed by Professor Hanns Hatt and Dr Lea Weber from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and published in the journal PLOS ONE. The researchers detected the olfactory receptor OR51B4 in tumour cells taken from the rectum and colon cancer cell lines. They analysed which odorant activates the receptor and in what way the activation affects the cells.

CRISPR aids diagnosis of early stage colon cancer

Using the gene-editing system known as CRISPR, MIT researchers have shown in mice that they can generate colon tumours that very closely resemble human tumours. This advance should help scientists learn more about how the disease progresses and allow them to test new therapies.  The paper, ‘vivo genome editing and organoid transplantation models of colorectal cancer and metastasis’, was published in Nature Biotechnology.