Cancer diseases are characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, 566 thousand people died of cancer in the United States in 2008 and 1.4 million new cases of cancer were reported. The cure for cancer remains elusive.
Aberrant signaling in the canonical Wnt pathway due to genetic mutations of Wnt signaling components in intestinal cells has been implicated to play a key role in colon cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Specifically, mutations in the Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene and, less frequently, in ß-catenin and/or Axin genes can cause cancer in the large intestine. In addition, recent evidence suggests aberrant Wnt signaling in the formation and metastasis of prostate cancer.
Enzo Therapeutics has developed a drug screening platform that combines structural biology, computation modeling, and biological assays to identify small molecule Wnt modulators. In our preliminary studies, we found that the small molecule compounds generated from this platform can decrease the number of aberrant crypt foci in the colorectal cancer mouse model, APC (min) mice. This result offers an opportunity for the identification of novel therapeutic targets and agents for treating colon cancer.