A research team at Ajou University Medical Center (AUMC), along with researchers in Norway and the U.S., have found a new treatment target and targeted therapy for gastric cancer.
The team, led by Professors Hur Hoon and Han In-hye, confirmed that the "GAS6," a protein in the fibroblasts accumulated in the gastric cancer tumor, activates the cell membrane protein called "AXL" in the gastric cancer cell, improving metastasis and tumor formation capacity.
|Professors Hur Hoon (left) and Han In-hye|
Professors James Loren at the Bergene University in Norway and Rolf Brekken at the University of Texas Southwestern also participated in the study.
The team found that if the expression of AXL protein increased or was activated in the stomach of a gastric patient who had undergone gastric cancer surgery, the patient's prognosis turned worse.
Gastric cancer is the most common cancer among Koreans, but there is a limit to the efficacy of existing anticancer chemotherapy treatments. Targeted therapeutics, which has recently been in the spotlight, is not frequently administered, either, increasing demand for the development of new drugs.
"The team confirmed that as AXL protein is phosphorylated, it stimulates several signal transduction pathways in gastric cancer cells and increases the metastatic ability and tumor formation of gastric cancer cells," Professor Hur said.
According to the team, when protein phosphorylation occurs, the structure and function of the protein change. When this phenomenon occurs in a specific protein in cancer cells, the cells may cause abnormal growth and division, causing cancer to develop faster.
The researchers also confirmed in an animal study that when using an AXL inhibitor developed by Bergen Bio, a Norwegian biopharmaceutical company, it inhibited the metastasis and tumor formation of gastric cancer cells.
"This study suggests a new targeted treatment for gastric cancer by revealing the mechanism of regulating the tumor microenvironment," Hur said. "The team expects that the prognosis of gastric cancer patients will be improved with the results of future clinical trials."
The results of the research were published in the journal Gastric Cancer on April 2, with the title of the "Inhibiting the GAS6/AXL axis suppresses tumor progression by blocking the interaction between cancer-associated fibroblasts and cancer cells in gastric carcinoma."
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