A protein found in the intestines may lead the way to a vaccine that can treat colon cancers, and perhaps other tumors, too, according to researchers at Thomas Jefferson University. The protein, called Guanylyl cyclase C protein, or GCC protein, is normally only expressed in the intestinal lining and in colorectal cancer cells when they are spreading.
The researchers injected mice with colorectal cancer cells, some before immunization with GCC and some after. Unvaccinated animals had an average of 30 new tumors in the lungs and liver. Vaccinated animals had an average of three—not total immunity, but a considerably lower rate. The vaccinated mice also lived longer.
These results will need to be duplicated before human trials can begin, but this could be good news for the 1.2 million patients a year diagnosed with colon cancer globally.