Stomach cancer trigger revealed

Hudson Institute

Researchers in Melbourne have uncovered a stomach cancer trigger, providing vital clues to the origins of the world’s third-most-common cancer.

Professor Brendan Jenkins has discovered a stomach cancer trigger, providing vital clues to the origins of the world's third-most-common cancer.
Professor Brendan Jenkins

Every year about 2,400 Australians are diagnosed with stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, with men twice as likely as women to develop the disease.

Its five-year survival rate is only around 30 per cent, partly due to the fact that diagnosis often occurs when the cancer is already advanced.

New treatment possibilities

A major risk factor is infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, and now researchers at Hudson Institute have identified a protein that appears to play a key role in the development of cancer in people infected with those bacteria.

Professor Brendan Jenkins believes that identifying this trigger protein, created by the body’s own defence system, opens up exciting possibilities in the treatment of stomach cancer.

“Toll-like receptor 9, or TLR9, is a protein of the body’s immune system that was originally identified as being important in controlling inflammatory responses,” Prof Jenkins said.

Dramatic reduction in early stomach tumours

“We have now made the exciting discovery that, by disabling the action of this gene, we prevent the production of the TLR9 protein and this dramatically reduces the early development of stomach tumours.

“That means we can now focus attention on managing TLR9 production as a treatment pathway to potentially halt the early development of stomach cancer,” he said.

This study will be published in the prestigious journal Cellular and molecular gastroenterology and hepatology.

Collaborators | Monash University; Kanazawa University, Japan

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