Prostate Cancer Successfully Suppressed with New Protein Discovery
Researchers in London have discovered a key protein which suppresses prostate cancer. This finding could lead to new treatments, or even a cure, for this deadly male cancer.
According to a study, due to be published tomorrow in the journal Cancer Research, scientists at the Imperial College of London found a protein which slows down prostate cancer in the laboratory. The protein, identified as FUS, is produced naturally inside cells and could potentially be manipulated to slow or stop the growth of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is a cancer which forms in a gland of the male reproductive system, called the prostate. It is estimated that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in men today.
Prostate cancer is typically slow-growing. However, some forms are aggressive and spread rapidly to bone and other organs. Dr. Charlotte Bevan, senior author on the study explains, “At the moment, there's no way to say whether a prostate tumour will kill you or be fairly harmless. Current hormonal therapies work for a limited time, and chemotherapy is often ineffective against prostate cancer, so there's a real need for new treatments.”
Dr. Bevan and her research team were studying the effect of male hormones on prostate cancer cells when they made their discovery. Prostate cancer is fueled by hormones, causing cancer cells to divide and tumors to grow. What the researchers found was that increases in hormone levels caused decreases in levels of FUS protein in the cancer cells. When they added back more FUS protein to the cancer cells, the rate of growth of prostate cancer was significantly decreased.
“Our study suggest that FUS is crucial link that connects male hormones with cell division”, states one author on the study. The researches are now looking to see if FUS can be used to diagnose a level of aggressiveness of the cancerous tumor and how FUS can manipulated in patents to increases levels and suppress tumors.
The researchers theorize that if FUS can be effectively increased in patients with prostate cancer then this could be the way to treat, or even, cure this common cancer. They go to to suggest that if FUS is an effective tumor suppressor, perhaps in the future it could be used in other cancers similar to prostate cancer, such as breast cancer.