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Human Colon Model Could Further Cancer Research


In new research published in Nature Biotechnology, scientists created a human colon model to study the development of colon cancer. 

How did the scientists create a human colon model? Well, it's a lot like remodeling a house. When you remodel a house, you gut the inside (no pun intended) by tearing down walls, taking out old insulation, maybe even taking out old piping. Then, you start rebuilding using the original frame with material you want, like new walls, insulation, paint and floors. That's what the scientists did to make a model colon. They used human colon tissue and took out all the cells they didn't want. Then using a process called "recullarization," they put new cells back into the original colon frame, but these cells are ones from patients who developed colon cancer. That way the scientists can look at the genetics of colon cancer in a controlled environment.

After the scientists created the model human colon, they looked at the genetic changes in the colon model and found these changes were typical for early stage colon cancer. In other words, 

“The recellularized human colon provides an exciting new model for identifying genes that are mutated during the earliest step in tumor metastasis,” said Nancy Jenkins, a cancer geneticist and an author of the paper. “Our hope is that a better understanding of the genetics of tumor metastasis will lead to better molecular targeted therapies and/or biomarkers for the treatment of colon cancer.”

Indeed, when scientists know more about how genetics cause colon cancer, the more streamlined treatment will become.

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