Promising target against Australia’s second deadliest cancer

Hudson Institute researchers have identified a target for controlling the development of colon cancer that could lead to novel treatment strategies.

During colon cancer development the protein Interleukin-22 (IL-22), produced by human defence cells, is known to promote colon cancer growth.

Dr Ina Rudloff

Dr Ina Rudloff and Professor Marcel Nold and colleagues (Hudson Institute, Monash University, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main) have shown how mechanistically, IL-22 promotes colon cancer progression, with IL-22 emerging as a potential target in colon cancer treatment.

In the study published in Translational Research the researchers show for the first time that IL-22 can activate proteins required for colon cancer growth.

“We identified proteins formerly unknown to be responsive to IL-22. Among these proteins is carcinoembryonic antigen, the most important serum marker clinically used in colon cancer patients to track disease progression or remission,” said Dr Rudloff.

1 in 13 Australians are predicted to develop colon cancer in their lifetime.

Colon cancer, also known as bowel cancer and colorectal cancer, can affect any part of the colon or rectum. According to Bowel Cancer Australia, Australia has one of the highest rates of colon cancer worldwide, with 15,604 Australians told they have the disease each year. With colon cancer on the rise, this number is predicted to increase to 20,000 by 2020.

Dr Rudloff believes that existing anti-IL-22 drugs currently being trialled for other diseases could be used to treat colon cancer.

“An anti-IL-22 drug named fezakinumab has been in clinical trials for the treatment of diseases such as psoriasis, dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Our study provides data that support calls for a clinical trial of fezakinumab in colon cancer patients,” said Dr Rudloff.

“Early discovery and effective treatment are key to preventing colon cancer mortality. Our study provides the grounds to trial anti-IL-22 therapies in colon cancer patients which might add another effective treatment strategy in the fight against the second deadliest cancer in Australia.”

Collaborators

Hudson Institute, Monash University, The Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.

Funders

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Grant, Monash Strategic grant, the Victorian Cancer Agency, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, “Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer” foundation, Fielding Foundation Innovation Award, Fielding Fellowship, Operational Infrastructure Support Program of the Victorian Government.

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