Researchers are using new technologies to examine the levels of a specific molecule, called COMMD1 in hundreds of human colorectal cancers. They will match these levels with tumour cell growth and death, aspirin usage, patient survival and tumour recurrence.

How will the molecule COMMD1 be studied?

The team have so far discovered that COMMD1 may be useful for identifying bowel cancer patients who will have a poorer prognosis, as well as those who would benefit from post-surgical therapy with aspirin.

They are collaborating with a team in Cuba who have identified a new drug called CIGB-552 that targets this molecule and has powerful activity against bowel cancer cells.

They are designing experiments to show how far COMMD1 drives the progression of cancer and how this can be affected by aspirin and CIGB-552. They believe that COMMD1 could be very important in cancer development and that being able to target the molecule could provide a new avenue for therapy.

The research team

This project is an exciting collaboration between Dr Lesley Stark at Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre and Dr Maribel Vallespi at the Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Cuba.

Why explore the molecule COMMD1’s role in bowel cancer?

This study has the potential to identify a biomarker for poor prognosis and how likely cancer is to recur. This is particularly important for stage II patients for whom no good biomarkers exist currently.

What is a biomarker? A biomarker is used to see how the body responds to a treatment for a particular disease or condition.

As well as this it may reveal a biomarker(s) for how a patient would respond to aspirin, which will allow doctors to identify patients who may benefit from taking aspirin, as well as provide useful information for clinical trials, such as Add-Aspirin, which is a large clinical trial looking at whether aspirin may stop or delay cancer recurrence.

Finally, it may reveal a new drug combination (aspirin and CIGB-552) for improved, targeted therapy in bowel cancer.