Houston: Genetic vulnerabilities could lead to powerful new treatments for colon cancer and the researchers hope that the drugs designed to strike these weak spots will eventually stop the disease that is almost inevitably fatal once it spreads, a study by an Indian-American professor says. Scientists increasingly see cancer as a genetic disease defined not so much by where it starts, colon, liver, brain, breast, but by genetic aberrations that are its Achilles` heel. And with a detailed understanding of which genetic changes make a cancer grow and thrive, they say they can figure out how best to mount an attack. They caution most of the drugs needed to target the colon cancer mutations haven`t been developed. Indian-American Harvard professor and the principal investigator for the colon cancer study, Raju Kucherlapati, who has been working on this subject for over 20 years, says: "There are significant findings from this study that better inform us about the cancer, and also provide potential new opportunity for treating this cancer." "In the United States alone, about 150,000 new patients are diagnosed annually with colon cancer, and 50,000 succumb to the disease. Worldwide, colon cancer afflicts half a million people, men and women", he said. Currently, the treatments for colon cancer are primarily surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, which Kucherlapati said are "not tremendously effective". "New ideas and new approaches for therapy for this cancer are needed," he stated, and the latest study, part of the multi-million dollar Cancer Genome Atlas project, brings about just that.
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