Newly published paper focused on potential strategy for lowering colorectal deaths


Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, deadly cancers but a lack of reliable biomarkers remains a serious issue for detecting the disease early.

The study establishes the TXA2 pathway’s importance in the development of colorectal cancer and lays the groundwork for introducing a strategy to target TXA2 for the prevention, early detection and management of this deadly disease.            In a new study published this month in the open-access journal EBioMedicine, a research team led by The Hormel Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong has provided new evidence showing that the TXA2 pathway is involved in the processes that leads to colorectal cancer. The TXA2 pathway is constitutively activated during colorectal carcinogenesis and required for anchorage-independent growth of colon cancer cells, the study says.

“Overall, our results indicate that lowering circulating TXA2 levels or interfering with the TXA2 pathway might be a promising strategy for colorectal cancer prevention and/or treatment in the future,” Dong said.

The team’s findings suggest that circulating TXA2 levels also might have a potential prognostic or predictive value for the early detection of colorectal cancer. Work is underway to further confirm the biomarker’s clinical performance.

Dong, who also leads the Cellular & Molecular Biology research section at The Hormel Institute, collaborated with Drs. Paul Limburg and Lisa Boardman from Mayo Clinic in Rochester as well as Drs. Yuzhou Zhao and Kangdong Liu from The Affiliated Cancer Hospital in Zhengzhou, China. The published paper on the study is titled, “Circulating Prostaglandin Biosynthesis in Colorectal Cancer and Potential Clinical Significance.”

Colorectal cancer represents the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Despite major improvements in preventive strategies and chemotherapeutic regimens, there has been little change in colorectal cancer death rates in the past 50 years, which is partly due to late diagnosis.

Although colonoscopy screening and fecal occult blood testing have proven effective in early detection of colorectal cancer, patient compliance remains low. Given that, there is an urgent need to identify new, convenient biomarkers for early detection of colorectal cancer

Researchers in the new study started investigating the potential predictive values of circulating prostaglandin (PG) biosynthesis in colorectal cancer risk. PGs and prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthases (PTGS) have been implicated in various pathological processes, such as inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The team’s analysis of circulating PG biosynthesis then unexpectedly revealed that the progression of colorectal cancer is accompanied by a pronounced elevation of circulating TXA2 levels.

Part of the study led by The Hormel Institute involved recruiting volunteers by the Gastroenterology and Hepatology group at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and The Affiliated Cancer Hospital in Zhengzhou, China. Funding for the project came from The Hormel Foundation and National Institutes of Health federal grants.

Study coauthors included Drs. Zigang Dong, Ann M. Bode, Haitao Li, Lei Wang, Yuqiao Sheng and Naomi Oi from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota in Austin, Minn.; Drs. Lisa Boardman and Paul Limburg from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; and Drs. Yuzhou Zhao and Kangdong Liu from The Affiliated Cancer Hospital in Zhengzhou, China. The Hormel Institute’s article is online at