Precision, targeted therapies for colon cancer will be studied

A $62,000 research grant from the Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation was awarded to Dr. Seung Ho Shin, a postdoctoral fellow at The Hormel Institute, to fund an innovative colon cancer research project. The study, titled “Discovery of beta-catenin inhibitors for treatment of colon cancer,” will further research Dr. Shin has already achieved to find more targeted ways to treat colon cancer.

“I am honored to receive this Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation grant,” said Dr. Shin. “This research is important because it aims to regulate one of the most notorious proteins in colorectal cancer – beta-catenin.”

The Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation supports the research of postdoctoral fellows and PhD students working to find causes, controls and/or preventions for colon and rectal cancer. Dr. Shin was selected as one of two recipients of this award in 2019.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. Although the overall incidence rate of colon cancer is decreasing due to the introduction of colonoscopy, advances in imaging and radiology, and the removal of precancerous lesions, incidence and death rates are still increasing among people younger than 50 years old. Because there are only a limited number of targeted therapies currently available for treating this cancer, new chemotherapeutic options for colorectal cancer patients are urgently needed.

Recent large-scale research showed that targeting beta-catenin is a promising strategy for colorectal cancer therapy. However, an FDA-approved drug that targets beta-catenin is not yet available. Successful completion of the research funded by this grant could produce beta-catenin inhibitors, and the drug candidates could be preceded to clinical trials for colon cancer chemotherapy.

Dr. Shin will be working under the guidance of The Hormel Institute’s executive director Dr. Zigang Dong during his research to discover chemotherapeutic agents and validate their effects in colon cancer patient-derived tissues. Dr. Shin and colleagues in The Hormel Institute have previously developed research on a beta-catenin inhibitor that was published in a top online research journal EBioMedicine in 2017.