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Tapeworm Drug Inhibits Colon Cancer Metastasis First Results in Mice – Clinical Trials Planned

A compound that for about 60 years has been used as a drug against tapeworm infection is also apparently effective against colon cancer metastasis, as studies using mice have now shown. The compound silences a gene that triggers the formation of metastases in colon cancer. Professor Ulrike Stein (Experimental and Clinical Research Center, a joint cooperation between the Charité Medical Faculty and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, (MDC)) and her research group made this discovery in collaboration with Professor Robert H. Shoemaker of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Maryland, USA (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 103, No. 12, June 17, 2011)*. Plans are already underway with Professor Peter M. Schlag (Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center) to conduct a clinical trial.

cancer is one of the most common tumor diseases in Western countries. In
Germany alone, there are approximated 73 000 new cases of the disease every
year. Despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, only about half of
the affected patients are cured.

The reason
is that around 20 percent of the colon cancer patients already have metastases
at diagnosis and in about one third of the patients, metastasis occurs despite
successful initial treatment. Of these patients with metastatic colon cancer, the
five-year survival rate is only about 10 percent. By contrast, for
nonmetastatic colon cancer patients the survival rate is 90 percent.

have known for several years that the gene S100A4/metastasin can initiate colon
cancer metastasis. Five years ago Professor Stein, working together with
Professor Schlag and Professor Walter Birchmeier (MDC), showed how this gene is
regulated. They found that the beta-catenin gene, when mutant, activates this S100A4/metastasin
gene, thus triggering colon cancer metastasis. Beta-catenin normally regulates
cellular adhesion.

scientists looked for compounds that block the expression of the metastasin
gene. They screened 1280 compounds and found what they were looking for:
niclosamide, a drug until now approved for use to treat intestinal parasite
infections from tapeworms.

the researchers discovered that niclosamide inhibits the beta catenin-driven
expression of the S100A4/metastasin gene, both in the cell culture and in mice.
The animals had fewer metastases. Next, the researchers want to conduct
clinical trials to find out whether the compound is also effective in patients
with metastasizing colon cancer.

Effect of Antihelminthic Niclosamide on S100A4-Mediated Metastatic Progression
in Colon Cancer

Sack, Wolfgang Walther, Dominic Scuiero, Mike Selby, Dennis Kobelt, Margit
Lemm, Iduna Fichtner, Peter M. Schlag, Robert H. Shoemaker, Ulrike Stein

and Clinical Research Center , Charité University Medicine at the Max
Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin



for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch

in the Helmholtz Association

13125 Berlin, Germany
+49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96

Fax:  +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33

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