Editors' ChoiceCancer

Treating Cancer by Getting on Its Nerves

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Science Signaling  26 Aug 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 340, pp. ec231
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005822

The nervous system plays a role in the regulation of many different organs, including the gut. Now, Zhao et al. have shown that the vagal nerve, which signals to the stomach through muscarinic receptors, contributes to the growth of gastric tumors. The authors demonstrated that vagotomy (surgical interruption of the vagal nerve) can prevent gastric cancer in mice and reduce the recurrence of gastric tumors in human patients. Moreover, the same result can be achieved in mice treated with Botox or anticholinergic drugs to inhibit vagal nerve signaling, raising the hope of a safer treatment for gastric cancer without irreversible side effects.

C.-M. Zhao, Y. Hayakawa, Y. Kodama, S. Muthupalani, C. B. Westphalen, G. T. Andersen, A. Flatberg, H. Johannessen, R. A. Friedman, B. W. Renz, A. K. Sandvik, V. Beisvag, H. Tomita, A. Hara, M. Quante, Z. Li, M. D. Gershon, K. Kaneko, J. G. Fox, T. C. Wang, D. Chen, Denervation suppresses gastric tumorigenesis. Sci. Transl. Med. 6, 250ra115 (2014). [Abstract]

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