Nav: Home

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.

Published in the journal Cancer Research, the discovery has potential to lead to the development of a blood test that could predict whether cancer will spread from the prostate tumour to other parts of the body. The research also reveals potential new targets for drugs that may inhibit the spread of cancer.

"Prostate cancers only kill men after they have spread or 'metastasised' from the prostate," says project leader Dr Luke Selth, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide's Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories and a member of the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health.

"The identification of markers that accurately predict, at an early stage, prostate tumours that are likely to metastasise could guide the urgency and aggressiveness of treatment - and this could save lives."

The international research team - led by the University of Adelaide and including members from the University of Michigan, Vancouver Prostate Centre, the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University - showed that a specific microRNA (a type of molecule involved in regulating the level and activity of genes) called miR-194 promotes cancer metastasis by inhibiting a key protein called SOCS2. SOCS2 can suppress the spread of cancer cells.

"In previous work, we had found that a high level of miR-194 in a patient's blood was associated with rapid relapse of prostate cancer following surgical removal of the tumour," says Dr Selth. "This new work explains why miR-194 is associated with a poor outcome, and in the process reveals a completely novel pathway regulating prostate cancer metastasis.

"Importantly, measuring miR-194 in a patient's blood at the time of diagnosis could become a test for the likelihood of metastasis. Patients with high levels of miR-194 in their blood could receive more aggressive treatment to reduce the chance of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body." Dr Selth's team is currently testing this idea using larger patient groups to validate their findings.

Dr Selth says miR-194 also represents a potential therapeutic target. "There are currently no drugs that effectively inhibit the spread of prostate cancer," he says. "We propose that inhibiting miR-194 could reduce rates of metastasis in patients with aggressive disease, but the development of a drug to achieve this goal is still a long way off."
-end-
This work was supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Prostate Cancer Foundation (USA), the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Movember.

Media Contact:

Dr Luke Selth, Senior Research Fellow, Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide. Phone: +61 8 8222 3618, Mobile: +61 (0) 413 734 037, luke.selth@adelaide.edu.au

Robyn Mills, Media Officer, Phone: +61 (0)8 8313 6341, Mobile: +61 (0)410 689 084, robyn.mills@adelaide.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Prostate Cancer Articles:

First prostate cancer therapy to target genes delays cancer progression
For the first time, prostate cancer has been treated based on the genetic makeup of the cancer, resulting in delayed disease progression, delayed time to pain progression, and potentially extending lives in patients with advanced, metastatic prostate cancer, reports a large phase 3 trial.
Men taking medications for enlarged prostate face delays in prostate cancer diagnosis
University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that men treated with medications for benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) experienced a two-year delay in diagnosis of their prostate cancer and were twice as likely to have advanced disease upon diagnosis.
CNIO researchers confirm links between aggressive prostate cancer and hereditary breast cancer
The study has potential implications for families with members suffering from these types of tumours who are at an increased risk of developing cancer.
Distinguishing fatal prostate cancer from 'manageable' cancer now possible
Scientists at the University of York have found a way of distinguishing between fatal prostate cancer and manageable cancer, which could reduce unnecessary surgeries and radiotherapy.
Researchers find prostate cancer drug byproduct can fuel cancer cells
A genetic anomaly in certain men with prostate cancer may impact their response to common drugs used to treat the disease, according to new research at Cleveland Clinic.
More Prostate Cancer News and Prostate Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...