No Stomach For Cancer, Inc. highlights promising research for new drugs lethal to only cancer cells and single-cell cancer detection

Madison, WI – August 29, 2011 – Research seeks new weapons against cancer with new drugs lethal only to cancer cells and a super-sensitive urine test for detecting cancer early.

“Can you imagine a time when a patient could choose a preventive drug over having their stomach completely removed?” asks Karen Chelcun Schreiber, Board Chair for No Stomach For Cancer, Inc. “The work of Dr. Guilford is extremely promising for the futures of families who carry a mutation in the CDH1 gene which leads to the development of stomach cancer.”

A research team in New Zealand, lead by Dr. Parry Guilford from the University of Otago, Dunedin was awarded a 3-yr research grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) to continue work on drugs that are selectively lethal to cancer cells.

“Most cancer drugs cause some damage to normal tissues as well as tumors. The resultant side effects limit the amount of drug that can be used to treat the cancer and consequently limit the drug’s overall effectiveness,” says Dr, Guilford.

Healthy cells produce E-cadherin, a protein that suppresses tumor growth, but the gene that produces E-cadherin is often ‘switched off’ in cancer cells. Dr. Guilford and his team are searching for compounds that will destroy cells lacking E-cadherin, but not healthy cells with normal levels of the protein.1

Dr. Guilford explains, “The complete loss of a protein such as E-cadherin from a cancer cell exposes a vulnerability that we plan to target in this research project funded by the NZ Health Research Council. We believe drugs that kill cells that lack E-cadherin will have a very high selectivity for tumors and will cause much less ‘collateral damage’ than conventional drugs. This should translate into much more effective drugs with fewer side-effects.”

People who inherit the CDH1 genetic mutation are at high risk for developing Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC), lobular breast cancer and colon cancer.

“For HDGC families, we hope that this will provide a treatment for CDH1 mutation carriers who have developed either stomach or breast cancers. In addition, since E-cadherin loss is a common event in sporadic (non-familial) stomach and lobular breast cancer, these new drugs should have very broad utility,” adds Dr. Guilford.

Early detection is also key to stopping the spread of cancer yet most tumors begin to spread well before any symptoms become obvious. Dr. Guilford’s team is also working on a new test for prostate and bladder cancer that is so sensitive, it can detect just a single cancer cell that is washed out in the urine.

“There may also be an opportunity to use this class of drug to prevent the development of cancers in mutation carriers who have opted for surveillance rather than prophylactic surgery, says Dr. Guilford.”

“This strengthens my hope for my grandchildren and the future generations of families throughout the world, that they will not have to choose life without a stomach to save themselves from this deadly disease,” says Chelcun Schreiber.

Dr. Guilford serves on the Scientific Advisory Council for No Stomach For Cancer, Inc. Karen Chelcun Schreiber is Board Chair and founder of No Stomach For Cancer, Inc.

No Stomach For Cancer supports research and unites the caring power of people worldwide affected by stomach cancer. They advance awareness and education about stomach cancer, including Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC), provide a support network for affected families, and support research efforts for early detection, screening and prevention of stomach cancer. Learn more at their website

1Health Research Council of New Zealand, Research seeks new weapons against cancer with a super-sensitive urine test and new drugs lethal only to cancer cells