Institute's colon cancer research published in high impact National Academy of Sciences journal

November 16, 2017

Research studies affects on immune system in quest to help prevent metastases

AUSTIN, Minn. - Nov 15, 2017 – Dr. Ke Yao from Dr. Zigang Dong's Cellular and Molecular Biology lab of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota published colon cancer research this week in the top scientific journal  PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The research team included Drs. Cong Peng, Yuwen Zhang, Tatyana A. Zykova, Mee-Hyun Lee, Sung-Young Lee, Enyu Rao, Hanyong Chen, Joohyun Ryu, Lei Wang, Yi Zhang, Ge Gao, Wei He, Wei-Ya Ma, Kangdong Liu, Ann M. Bode, Ziming Dong and Zigang Dong.

Dr. Yao and colleagues identified key molecules that can help prevent colon cancer from growing and spreading to other parts of the body.  A person's healthy immune system is necessary for fighting off cancer and this study found the interaction between two proteins ( RSK2 and T-bet) affected the levels of a critical immune signaling molecule called interferon-gamma.

"This research discovery is important because it increases our understanding of how the immune system fights against cancer," said Dr. Ke Yao, Research Associate Professor at The Hormel Institute.

"It provides clues for developing new approaches and therapies in the quest to prevent and control cancer."

Metastasis is a major cause of cancer-related deaths. Approximately 80% of patients with colorectal cancer develop liver metastasis and 20% develop lung metastasis.  By understanding what promotes the progression, better regulation/stopping of cancer can occur. Researchers at The Hormel Institute are studying new ways to kill or stop the growth of primary and metastatic cancer cells and are continually studying how to disrupt the steps in the process that allow cancer cells to spread.

PNAS is one of the world's most-cited and comprehensive scientific journals and strives to publish only the highest quality scientific research.  Every paper undergoes rigorous peer review and approval by an NAS member before publication.

The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota - Started in 1942 by Jay C. Hormel, The Hormel Institute, UMN is comprised of a group of highly successful scientists who are focused on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development to develop new anti-cancer agents. In 2016 the Institute celebrated a major expansion, which doubled its size, adding 20 state-of-the-art laboratories and the Ray Live Learning Center, a 250-seat auditorium plus event room with advanced technology to facilitate international medical research collaborations and presentations. Overall, The Hormel Institute’s expansion is expected to add about 120 faculty and staff jobs in the next few years, growing the Institute to about 250 overall, and currently there are 17 research sections.  The Hormel Institute is a high achieving unit and part of the Masonic Cancer Center of the University of Minnesota.

The Hormel Institute, UMN    801 16th Avenue NE, Austin, MN  55912     507-437-9602



CONTACT Gail Dennison, The Hormel Institute, 507-437-9604,