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The survival chances of patients suffering from an aggressive form of bowel cancer could be improved thanks to a breakthrough in stem cell research.
Scientists from Durham University and the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) found that those likely to develop a more virulent strain of the disease, could be pinpointed by a test which looks for a marker protein called Lamin A.
In the early stages of bowel cancer – which is the third most common cancer in the UK, patients are normally treated with surgery.
The new research indicates that those with Lamin A in their tissue should be given additional chemotherapy treatment to improve their chances of recovery.
The researchers, who worked with colleagues from The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, made the discovery after tracking tissue samples from 700 patients. They found that around a third of the patients tested, had the protein in their tissue samples, indicating a more serious form of the disease.
It is now hoped that a test can be developed for general use.
Professor Robert Wilson, of The James Cook University Hospital, said: “We know the best treatment for very early and very late disease but there are still a lot of unknowns in-between these two extremes.”
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