MUC1: A promising target in Barrett’s epithelium (BE) and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA).

MUC1A study published on Oncotarget , shows a possible a new  pharmacological outlook to treat esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) .The esophagus is a muscular tube that moves food and liquids from the throat to the stomach. Adenocarcinoma is one the most common types of esophageal cancer, which begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids. Esophageal cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and the 5-year survival of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) remains low at around 15%.

Barrett’s epithelium is a premalignant change that increases the risk of developing EA 30-100 fold above that for the general population [2, 3]. Eradication of Barrett’s epithelium significantly reduces the risk of developing EA”.The mucin MUC1 is a densely glycosylated transmembrane protein anchored to the apical surface of many epithelia including the breast, ovary and gastrointestinal tract. MUC1 has an important role in cell surface lubrication and the clearance of debris and pathogens. Many studies have shown that this oncoprotein plays key role in the progression of many types of cancer. However, previous studies of MUC1 expression in the premalignant changes of EA are not conclusive and often contradictory.

The study, using the gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), finally highlighted the role MUC1 played as a biomarker in the development of EA. Also, the research proves  the alteration of  MUC1 expression and glycosylation during esophageal malignant transformation. Researchers of the Imperial Collegeis in London, used antibody HuHMFG1 against MUC1, as a vehicle for an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). “ADCs are a well-established and clinically-successful approach to cancer therapy, but target and payload selection are key in developing drugs with high efficacy and tolerability”.

It is clear that their work is a great step forward because allows to develop a pharmacological treatment to the EA that may have a great therapeutic potential. In fact, how we can read on the paper “Molecular and light based targeting of MUC1 with a photosensitive ADC is effective in vitro and after development may enable treatment of locoregional tumors endoscopically”.


2. Sharma P, Falk GW, Sampliner R, Jon Spechler S, Wang K. Management of nondysplastic Barrett’s esophagus: where are we now? Am J Gastroenterol. 2009; 104: 805–8. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2008.75.

3. Solaymani-Dodaran M, Logan RFA, West J, Card T. Mortality associated with Barrett’s esophagus and gastroesophageal reflux disease diagnoses-a population-based cohort study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005; 100: 2616–21. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.00340.x.

The following two tabs change content below.
Mirella Orsi

Mirella Orsi

I am a Science Writer and communicator with a background in Pharmaceutical chemistry. My portfolio covers all aspects of the communication in science from the writing to the science outreach.I have a proven track record in print and online journalism. I have written Science Caffè, Migrant Woman and LondraItalia. I am a contributor for Italoeuropeo and for other publications in Italy and in UK.In addition; I work as a broadcast journalist for LondonOneRadio covering seminars, awards and science festivals. I am a member of the Association of the British writers (ABSW).

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image