La gente con el gen defectuoso es propensa a cáncer de colon y recto.
La gente con el gen defectuoso es propensa a cáncer de colon y recto.

Uno de los primeros fármacos de quimioterapia, desarrollado en los 1940, parece funcionar contra un defecto genético que provoca cáncer de colon y recto y otras formas de la enfermedad, afirman científicos británicos.

En pruebas de laboratorio los investigadores descubrieron que el metotrexato logró destruir las células que contenían el gen dañado, llamado MSH2.

Estos resultados, dicen los expertos, podrían conducir a tratamientos específicos para las formas de cáncer provocadas por este gen defectuoso.

Propensión

La enfermedad genética conocida como síndrome de cáncer colónico hereditario no polipoideo o HNPCC (también conocida como síndrome de Lynch) provoca que la persona tenga una propensión a desarrollar ciertas formas de cáncer.

Cerca de 90% de los hombres y 70% de las mujeres con este defecto habrán desarrollado cáncer de colon y recto para cuando cumplan 70 años.

Esto suma cerca de 5% de todos los casos de cáncer de colon y recto. Pero el defecto también contribuye a tumores en el estómago, útero, ovarios y riñones.

Cerca de 40% de las personas con HNPCC tienen un defecto en el gen MSH2.

Este gen por lo general juega un papel muy importante en la reparación del daño al ADN, pero si está defectuoso se pueden acumular errores en las células y aumentar el riesgo de que se desarrolle el cáncer.

La gente que desarrolla la enfermedad como resultado del defecto en el gen puede tener más de un tumor, lo que hace más difícil tratar el trastorno.

Años después de que fue utilizado por primera vez en Estados Unidos, el metotrexato continúa usándose comúnmente en el tratamiento de leucemia.

El fármaco funciona evitando que las células cancerígenas crezcan y se multipliquen, pero normalmente no se le usa para atacar tumores sólidos ya que existen mejores y más nuevos medicamentos contra éstos.

«Lo que es emocionante sobre el metotrexato es que éste destruye de forma selectiva las células que no cuentan con la función del MSH2» afirma el profesor Alan Ashworth, quien dirigió el estudio en el Instituto de Investigación de Cáncer.

«Esto indica que el fármaco podría ser un excelente tratamiento para los pacientes que tienen la alteración genética» expresa el científico.

Tratamiento a la medida

Por su parte, el doctor Lesley Walker, de la organización Cancer Research Uk -que financió el estudio- afirma que «en el pasado, se han desarrollado muchos tratamientos que matan a las células de forma indiscriminada».

«Pero con las mejoras en el entendimiento científico, ahora estamos comenzando a ofrecer terapias específicas que son selectivas para las fallas genéticas en el cáncer».

«Es realmente fascinante que nuestros científicos hayan descubierto que un fármaco antiguo como éste ofrezca nuevas esperanzas para este grupo específico de pacientes» señala el experto.

Los científicos están ahora comenzando un ensayo clínico en un hospital inglés para ver que tan efectivo es el metotrexato para tratar a pacientes con cáncer avanzado de colon y recto.

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