Could colon cancer be a hormone deficiency disease? And could that deficiency also play a role in obesity?
Thomas Jefferson University researcher Scott Waldman has been awarded a $1.2 million "provocative questions" grant from the National Cancer Institute to try to find answers.
His search is focused on a hormone called guanylyl cyclase that binds to a cell "receptor," called GCC, in the intestines. The hormone activates GCC, which in turn tells intestinal cells to make more hormones.
Over the last two decades, Waldman and his team have shown that a lack of the hormone that activates GCC can trigger uncontrolled cell growth, leading to colorectal cancer. They also found that, since GCC is normally found in the intestines, testing for it in lymph nodes of newly diagnosed colon cancer patients can reveal whether the malignancy has spread.