Researchers led by The Hormel Institute's Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong and Associate Director Dr. Ann M. Bode, who co-lead the Cellular & Molecular Biology section, discovered that aspirin might exert its chemopreventive activity against colorectal cancer, at least partially, by normalizing the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in gastrointestinal precancerous lesions. EGFR is overexpressed in about 80 percent of cases involving colorectal cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. For this study, The Hormel Institute partnered with Mayo Clinic researchers who provided tissue sections from recruited FAP patients who were classified as regular aspirin users or nonusers. Consistent clinical trial data strongly suggests that regular use of aspirin and other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs lowers a person's lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer. While reliable biomarkers remain a serious issue for the early detection of colorectal cancer, The Hormel Institute's findings in that study suggest that circulating TXA2 levels might have a potential prognostic or predictive value for detecting colorectal cancer early. Work is underway to further confirm the biomarker's clinical performance. Through the use of The Hormel Institute's two IBM supercomputers, Drs. Dong and Bode have discovered three small molecules highly effective at suppressing colon cancer cell growth by inhibiting β-catenin, an enzyme strongly expressed in many cancer cell types that promotes growth and tumor formation.