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Targeting Neuropilin-2 Offers Promise for Colorectal Cancer

Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor is expressed in tumors and not adjacent tissue

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Neuropilin-2 (NRP2), a receptor for vascular endothelial growth factor and semaphorin 3F, holds potential as a therapeutic target in colorectal cancer, according to research published in the Jan. 16 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Michael J. Gray, Ph.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues assessed NRP2 expression in colorectal tumors and adjacent mucosa and in colorectal cancer cells. They also created colorectal cancer cell lines transfected with short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) against NRP2 or control shRNAs to measure the effect of reducing NRP2 expression on cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, apoptosis, and other functions in mice.

The investigators found that NRP2 was expressed in tumors but not normal tissue. They also found that interrupting the NRP2 function reduced anchorage-independent growth, cell migration, invasiveness and tumorigenicity. Adding an anti-NRP2 therapy to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapies may bolster existing anti-angiogenesis treatments and prevent NRP2-expressing tumors from growing and metastasizing, they write.

"Many reports have described the essential roles of neuropilins in endothelial cell and neuronal function. The current study tells us that neuropilin-2 promotes colon carcinoma tumor progression in a mouse model. This is welcome new information. Let us hope that targeting neuropilin-2 can hit double punches against the cancer microenvironment and the cancer itself," write Masashi Narazaki, of Osaka University in Japan, and colleagues, in an accompanying editorial.

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