In the recent years, fatty acids (FAs) have been acknowledged not only as building materials for lipid membranes and carbon source for β-oxidation, but also as important signaling molecules. In this field, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have received special attention as modulators of inflammation. The enzymes that process PUFAs into bioactive metabolites (cyclooxygenases, lipoxygenases) have already been targeted by pharmaceutical agents. Given the fact that intense synthesis of FAs is a metabolic hallmark of cancer, it is expected that FAs play an important role in cancer development, progression and invasion, and could be targeted by modern therapies. In this chapter, we will discuss the possible use of FAs and drugs affecting their metabolism against colorectal cancer (CRC), which is strongly associated with environmental factors such as high-fat, high caloric diet and obesity. We will cover the role of n-3 PUFAs as dietary supplements in primary prevention of CRC based on the results obtained from clinical trials, and elaborate on the latest patents designed to improve the bioavailability of PUFAs concentrates as nutritional treatments for patients with CRC. We will also discuss the enzymes processing PUFAs and their role in tumorigenesis with focus on their potential as markers for “molecular staging” (fatty acid synthases and elongases) and targets in therapy (cyclooxygenase 2 and lipoxygenase 5). Finally, we will examine new drug formulations (e.g. liposomes) and their utility in CRC therapy. The chapter is based on the review of literature (PubMed Database) and patent documents.
Keywords: Adjuvant therapy, chemotherapy, colorectal cancer, cyclooxygenase, dietary supplementation, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, fatty acids, gastrointestinal cancer, inflammation, lipoxygenase, liposomes, nutritional treatment, polyunsaturated fatty acids, prevention, patents.