By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9


A team of researchers at the OU Cancer Institute have been investigating adult stem cell biology for some time.

In particular, they've been trying to identify the stem cells found in the intestines and colon.

They already believed that those stem cells are precursors for most cancers in the gastro-intestinal track.

Then, they identified a protein called Musashi-1, known to be a stem cell blocker.

"We've blocked that protein, regressed," said Dr. Courtney Houchen of OU Cancer Institute.

Most cancer therapies attack the rapidly growing cancer cells. Cancer carrying stem cells grow more slowly, and that's what the OU team is taking aim at.

"We liken it to cutting, the hair will grow back," said Houchen

The OU researchers hope to begin clinical trials in the next five to seven years.