Scientists find link between age and different subtypes of bowel cancer

Published:

NOTE: This article is older than 12 months

A study by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has for the first time identified that bowel cancer has five distinct subtypes that are closely related to a patient’s age.

Senior author from QIMR Berghofer’s Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory, Associate Professor Vicki Whitehall, said the new way of classifying bowel cancers may have implications for the kinds of treatments patients are offered.

About 17,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer annually in Australia and more than 4,000 die from the disease each year, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Associate Professor Whitehall said the study found bowel cancer could be classified according to methylation of the genes – or simply put, how the genes turned on or off.

“Our study found those changes in methylation of bowel cancers closely track with a patient’s age. This may indicate that bowel cancers occurring in younger and older patients may have different underlying causes,” Associate Professor Whitehall said.

“DNA methylation is a way a cell can turn its own genes on or off, but in cancer this process gets hijacked and it turns on genes that favour growth and turns off genes that are meant to suppress it.

“This study suggests we should now focus on how methylation – the switching on or off of genes – causes these five different subtypes of bowel cancer and look for treatments that reduce DNA methylation to reduce the cancer risk.”

Lead researcher Lochlan Fennell said bowel cancer was generally a disease that struck later in life.

“Previous studies have linked DNA methylation to ageing and bowel cancer but ours is the first study to identify five different subtypes of bowel cancer based on this process,” Mr Fennell said.

“We were interested in finding out which genes were being switched on and off in tumours and that’s how we found the different subgroups.

“Our study indicates that the different genetic changes that cause cancer happen at different ages and that might have implications for different treatments, because we know some types respond better to immunotherapy and other targeted therapies while other types are resistant to these therapies.”

The three-year study involved samples from 216 patients at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The findings have been published in the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Pathology Queensland and the US National Institute of Health.

 
Health & Wellness Lifestyle Science & Research
Social:   

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute :
PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, 4029, Brisbane
07 3845 3752
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Scientists identify new target for melanoma immunotherapy 30 June 2020 | QIMR Berghofer research has found a new reason why some melanoma patients do not respond well to immunotherapy – a discovery that could lead to better-tailored treatments for the potentially deadly cancer. More information...
Heart research to be revolutionised thanks to $8 million funding boost 25 June 2020 | Queensland researchers will begin developing a comprehensive ‘encyclopedia’ of the heart in a world-first project that, if successful, will revolutionise cardiac research and treatment. More information...
Researchers stimulate improvements in Parkinson's treatment 23 June 2020 | New research led by QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has identified ways to make the most widely-used advanced treatment for Parkinson’s disease – deep brain stimulation therapy – more effective and... More information...
Blood cancer find raises new treatment hopes 16 June 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer research has identified how an early genetic change in blood and bone marrow cells paves the way for the development of some blood cancers. More information...
New evidence of dangers of high-fat diet on pre-cancerous condition 08 June 2020 | New QIMR Berghofer research indicates that a high-fat diet over a long period of time may induce early Barrett’s oesophagus, a precursor condition to oesophageal cancer. More information...
Study finds new clues in eye cancer 19 May 2020 | About five per cent of melanomas in the eye are caused by exposure to sunlight, while the majority are not, a new study by QIMR Berghofer and Queensland Ocular Oncology Service has found. More information...
Queenslanders needed to help find potential COVID-19 immunotherapy treatment 14 May 2020 | QIMR Berghofer scientists are urging Queenslanders who have recovered from COVID-19 to help them discover how the human immune system fights the disease – and hopefully develop immunotherapies to treat very sick... More information...
Scientists to trial rheumatoid arthritis drug in ICU patients with COVID-19 09 May 2020 | Queensland researchers are preparing to begin a clinical trial of a drug that regulates inflammation in the hope it may help save the lives of critically ill patients with COVID-19. More information...
Scientists double understanding of genetic risk of melanoma 28 April 2020 | A global collaboration of scientists has more than doubled the known number of regions on the human genome that influence the risk of developing melanoma. More information...


comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service