An update on guanylyl cyclase C in the diagnosis, chemoprevention, and treatment of colorectal cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2020 Sep 18. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2020.1826304. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, underscoring the need for novel therapies. Despite the successes of new targeted agents for other cancers, colorectal cancer suffers from a relative scarcity of actionable biomarkers. In this context, the intestinal receptor, guanylyl cyclase C (GUCY2C), has emerged as a promising target.

AREAS COVERED: GUCY2C regulates a tumor suppressive signaling axis that is silenced through loss of its endogenous ligands at the earliest stages of tumorigenesis. A body of literature supports a cancer chemoprevention strategy involving reactivation of GUCY2C through FDA-approved cGMP-elevating agents such as linaclotide, plecanatide, and sildenafil. Its limited expression in extra-intestinal tissues, and retention on the surface of cancer cells, also positions GUCY2C as a target for immunotherapies to treat metastatic disease, including vaccines, chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, and antibody-drug conjugates. Likewise, GUCY2C mRNA identifies metastatic cells, enhancing colorectal cancer detection and staging. Pre-clinical and clinical programs exploring these GUCY2C-targeting strategies will be reviewed.

EXPERT OPINION: Recent mechanistic insights characterizing GUCY2C ligand loss early in tumorigenesis, coupled with results from the first clinical trials testing GUCY2C-targeting strategies, continue to elevate GUCY2C as an ideal target for prevention, detection, and therapy.