Disrupting prostate cancer 'homing signal' could hold promise for new treatments

March 20, 2017, King's College London
Micrograph showing prostatic acinar adenocarcinoma (the most common form of prostate cancer) Credit: Wikipedia

New King's College London research sheds light on the cellular mechanisms which enable cancer cells to escape the prostate and spread to other parts of the body.

Published today in the journal Oncogene, the findings suggest that it may one day be possible to therapeutically disrupt the 'homing signal' which causes to enter the bloodstream and form secondary tumours.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with 40,000 new cases a year in the UK. Advanced 'metastatic' prostate cancer develops when cancer cells spread through the blood stream or lymphatic system, where they establish secondary tumours on lymph nodes or bone.

The metastatic form of the disease is currently incurable and despite advances in diagnosis, 30 per cent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer already have by the time they present at the clinic.

Clinicians are currently unable to predict which prostate tumours will become metastatic and establish secondary tumours in other tissues, and which ones will remain within the prostate. Identifying a molecular pathway that contributes to this process could guide treatment by helping clinicians distinguish between the two forms of cancer, and it could also assist with singling out targets for therapeutic intervention.

A team of scientists and clinicians from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) and the University of Oxford examined the cellular machinery of benign and malignant human prostate tissue and human prostate cancer cell lines.

They discovered a molecular pathway that organises the cytoskeleton (a skeletal frame which gives shape to a cell) and enables cells to respond to homing signals and invade other tissue outside the prostate. At the core of this pathway are two proteins called drebrin and EB3, which control the movement of cells through the outer layer of the prostate and into the bloodstream or lymphatic system (a system of thin tubes and that run throughout the body and are an important part of the immune system).

Senior author of the study, Professor Phillip Gordon-Weeks from the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at the IoPPN, King's College London, said: 'Prostate cancer cells are attracted to the tissue they invade by homing signals released from these tissues. We've now identified the that guides this process and we think these homing signals could one day be disrupted therapeutically to stop cells escaping the primary tumour and invading the body to form .

'This research provides a really compelling example of how basic research can drive and inform translational research. Using animal models, we now need to examine how the homing signal could be manipulated using treatments.'

Explore further: Research helps explain why androgen-deprivation therapy doesn't work for many prostate cancers

Related Stories

Research helps explain why androgen-deprivation therapy doesn't work for many prostate cancers

January 5, 2017
Metastatic prostate cancer, or prostate cancer that has spread to other organs, is incurable. In new research published in the journal Science, Roswell Park Cancer Institute scientists have identified two gatekeeper genes ...

Predicting and preventing prostate cancer spread

January 25, 2017
University of Adelaide researchers have uncovered a new pathway which regulates the spread of prostate cancer around the body.

Marker for aggressive prostate cancer doubles up as a drug target

November 8, 2016
Researchers have discovered that a marker found on aggressive prostate cancer cells could also be used as a way to guide treatments to the cancer, according to new research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute ...

Researchers discover how cancer's 'invisibility cloak' works

September 26, 2016
UBC researchers have discovered how cancer cells become invisible to the body's immune system, a crucial step that allows tumours to metastasize and spread throughout the body.

Tumor cells in blood samples could predict prostate cancer spread

November 3, 2016
Researchers have found a group of circulating tumour cells in prostate cancer patient blood samples which are linked to the spread of the disease, according to new research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute ...

Men could be spared unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer with new detection method

April 6, 2016
Researchers are working to find a way to determine how serious prostate cancer is when first diagnosed to avoid unnecessary treatments, which can cause life long side effects and even death.

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.