In what can be termed as an important step in the battle against prostate cancer [abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. ] , scientists have discovered a key protein which not only suppresses the growth of the malignant cells, but also triggers a pathway that leads to their suicide.
Details of the Study:
According to experts, the identification of the protein known as FUS (Fused in Ewing’s Sarcoma) could be used to treat and even cure the lethal disease in men.
Prostate cancer [Prostate cancer is a disease in which the cells of the prostate become abnormal. They start to grow uncontrollably, forming tumors. A tumor is a mass or lump of tissue made of abnormal cells. Tumors may be malignant or benign. A malignant tumor can spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Benign tumors cannot spread to other parts of the body.] is the second leading cause of cancer death in men today.
The disease is typically slow-growing, but can at times take an aggressive form and spread rapidly to the bone and other organs which can turn fatal.
FUS protein inhibits growth of tumors
The research team from the Imperial College London studying the effect of male hormones [chemical substances created by the body that control numerous body functions.] on prostate cancer cells found that FUS inhibits the growth of tumors.
They noted that patients whose prostate cancer cells had high levels of FUS had less aggressive tumours. In addition, they were inclined to survive for a longer period.
Researchers theorize that FUS levels could be used as a marker to predict how aggressive the disease is likely to be.
Dr Charlotte Bevan, senior author of the study, from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, stated, “At the moment, there’s no way to say whether a prostate tumour will kill you or be fairly harmless.
“Current hormonal therapies only work for a limited time, and chemotherapy is often ineffective against prostate cancer, so there’s a real need for new treatments.â€
“These findings suggest that FUS might be able to suppress tumour growth and stop it from spreading to other parts of the body where it can be deadly. It’s early stages yet but if further studies confirm these findings, then FUS might be a promising target for future therapies.”
A laboratory study
Prostate cancer is aggravated by male hormones that divide the cancer cells which multiply and spread.
Since, high hormone levels cause the cells to produce less of the protein FUS, the scientists conducted an experiment by adding more of the protein in the cancer cells in a dish.
It was noted that when the cells were producing more FUS, there was a significant reduction in the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Greg Brooke, from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, said, “Our study suggests that FUS is a crucial link that connects male hormones with cell division. The next step is to investigate whether FUS could be a useful test of how aggressive prostate cancer is.
“Then we might look for ways to boost FUS levels in patients to see if that would slow tumour growth or improve response to hormone therapy.
“If FUS really is a tumour suppressor, it might also be involved in other cancers, such as breast cancer, which has significant similarities with prostate cancer.”
The study has been sponsored by Prostate Action, the Medical Research Council, The Prostate Cancer Charity and Imperial College and the findings are to be published in the ‘Cancer Research’ journal.
TheMedGuru.com â€“ Scientist discover protein that suppresses prostate cancer