New therapeutic approach: Fragrance inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in Germany. Bochum researchers are now hoping for a new approach to colorectal cancer therapy. The scientists have found that the growth of colon cancer cells can be slowed down with a certain fragrance.
Second most common cancer in Germany
Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in Germany, from which more than six percent of all Germans suffer in the course of their lives. The chances of recovery depend heavily on how early the cancer is discovered. Those affected are usually surgically removed and given chemotherapy. German researchers are now hoping for a new approach to colorectal cancer therapy.
New targets in colon cancer cells
Since tumors in the large intestine or rectum grow slowly and do not cause any problems for a long time for most of those affected, the disease is often recognized late.
Experts therefore repeatedly refer to the importance of the preventive medical check-up, especially if the family has already suffered from colon cancer. Early detection can save lives.
Odor researchers at the Ruhr University in Bochum have now reported that they have discovered new targets in colon cancer cells.
Cancer cell growth can be slowed down with fragrance
According to the scientists around Prof. Dr. habil. Hanns Hatt and Dr. Lea Weber from the Ruhr University in Bochum can use the fragrance Troenan to slow the growth of colon cancer cells.
As the researchers report in the journal "PLOS ONE", they discovered the olfactory receptor OR51B4 in tumor cells from the rectum and analyzed which fragrance activates the receptor and how the activation affects the cells.
The team from the Bochum Chair for Cell Physiology cooperated for the study with the Department of Molecular Gastroenterological Oncology at the Ruhr University, which is headed by Prof. Stephan Hahn. The team from the Cologne Center for Genomics carried out the required gene sequencing.
An obstacle to the formation of metastases
According to a statement from the university, olfactory receptors have already been detected in various healthy tissues and cancer tissues.
The Bochum researchers have now found the OR51B4 receptor in large quantities in colon cancer cells. They identified the Troenan molecule as an activator for OR51B4. It smells of privet, a shrub plant that is often used as a hedge.
The scientists treated cancer cells from the HCT116 cell line and tumor tissue samples from patients with Troenan. It was shown that the cells no longer grew as quickly and moved more slowly than before - an obstacle to the formation of metastases.
Cancer cells also died as a result of the Troenan treatment. The fragrance effects have now been confirmed in further experiments with mice that developed the human tumor.
Chances of recovery depend crucially on the stage of the disease
"Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in Germany, from which more than six percent of all Germans suffer in the course of their lives," the university wrote in its press release.
The material used in the present study was reported to be colorectal tumors, which account for 95 percent of malignant bowel tumors and are the leading cause of colorectal cancer deaths.
According to the experts, the chances of a cure if doctors surgically remove such a tumor are 50 percent. They depend crucially on the stage of the disease in which colon cancer is discovered. There is currently no targeted pharmacological treatment, only general chemotherapy.
"We believe that our results could open up a new approach for colorectal cancer therapy," said Hanns Hatt. The tumors are often accessible from the inner cavity of the intestine.
“It is therefore conceivable that an oral or rectal intake would bring the fragrance Troenan in the effective concentrations directly to the tumor. However, clinical studies with patients are still necessary for this, ”says Hatt. (ad)