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Scientists Develop New Prostate Cancer Cell Line

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have established a laboratory prostate cancer cell line they believe will become a valuable research tool in both understanding and treating prostate cancer.

The new prostate cancer cell line reflects how the cancer can initially be fueled by the male hormone androgen and how the cells can then morph into hormone-resistant, aggressive tumors. The majority of existing prostate cancer cell lines does one or the other, but not both.

"This cell line provides a new experimental model for studies on androgen-related growth of prostate cancer cells and for research on genetic changes and molecular pathways involved in growth of androgen-deprived prostate cancer cells," says the study's lead author, Marja Nevalainen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

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"Hopefully these cells will help us in coming up with new therapies, and will also be valuable in understanding the genetic changes that occur when prostate cancer does not respond to hormones," she says.

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer are often treated with agents that suppress production of androgen, because the hormone provides the fuel that promotes cancer growth. But once androgen is gone, the cancer can find a new way to grow – and become more resistant to treatment.

This new cell line, known as CWR22Pc, is derived from the CWR22 primary xenograft tumors, initially established from prostate cancer cells in a Case Western Reserve University patient. That particular tumor system can only be maintained as transplantable tumor in mice, so it provides an incomplete model by which to study the disease, Nevalainen says.

The new cell line is strictly regulated by androgen, and these cells express both high levels of the androgen receptor and prostate specific androgen (PSA), which is used as a common marker of the cancer. And in mice, when androgens were withdrawn from established tumors established by CWR22Pc, the tumors initially shrank but then regrew as androgen-independent tumors – again mimicking what happens in men with the disease.

"Our hopes are high that this laboratory tool will shed more light on how to treat this puzzling disease," Nevalainen says.