A team of South Korean scientists has developed a new substance that helps track and even prevent the spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to adjacent organs, the science ministry said Thursday.
The team, led by Prof. Lee Seong-wook of Dankook University, has developed an RNA aptamer that binds to colorectal cancer cells in a peculiar way that makes the cancer cells easily identifiable, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Easily detectable cancer cells in turn make it possible to track the metastasis or spread of colon cancer cells to the liver, which occurs in as many as seven out of every 10 patients.
The research, partly funded by the science ministry, was published in this month`s edition of the international journal Gastroenterology under the title of "An RNA aptamer that binds carcinoembryonic antigen inhibits hepatic metastasis of colon cancer cells in mice."
The new RNA aptamer could also be further developed into a cancer-fighting agent, Lee said in a telephone interview, adding over 90 percent of colorectal cancer cells in mice died out under treatment with the substance.
The substance also helped block nearly 90 percent of colorectal cancer cells from spreading to the liver, he added.