New prostate cancer studies look at hormone and protein connection

April 28, 2005

Hamilton ON - Two researchers at McMaster University's Faculty of Health Sciences have been awarded research grants from the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada.

Prostate cancer is the second most deadly form of cancer in men after smoke related lung cancer. It is estimated by the Prostate Foundation of Canada that one in eight Canadian men will develop the disease, and one in four of them will die from prostate cancer.

Damu Tang, assistant professor, Medicine, has received $120,000 to research the newly identified protein PTEN, to see how important it is in preventing prostate cancer progression.

In its early stage, prostate cancer requires the hormone androgen to grow, until it progresses to a point where androgen is no longer needed. Clinical observations demonstrate clearly that 50 percent of advanced prostate cancers have no PTEN.

It is believed that the loss of PTEN removes a crucial protection, which facilitates prostate cancer progression into the androgen-independent stage.

Sujata Persad, assistant professor, Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences was awarded $60,000 to study Beta-catenin, a protein highly associated with prostate cancer initiation, progression and metastases. Beta-catenin plays two important roles inside cells: it functions to glue cells to each other and it promotes cell growth and survival.

Beta--catenin can be modified by having sugar molecules attached to its structure. Persad's team will investigate whether modifying beta-catenin affects its role in promoting cell growth and survival. Modification happens less frequently in prostate cancer cells than in normal prostate cells, and using sugar modification may regulate the function of beta-catenin to prevent tumor formation in prostate cells.
McMaster University, named Canada's Research University of the Year by Research InfoSource, has world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 23,000 and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries.

McMaster University

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