Starving prostate cancer

November 01, 2011

Each year about 3300 Australian men die of prostate cancer. It's Australia's second worst cancer killer for men, matching the impact of breast cancer on women.

Current therapies for prostate cancer include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation, freezing the tumour or cutting off the supply of the hormone testosterone--but there are often side-effects including incontinence and impotence.

Growing cells need an essential nutrient, the amino acid called leucine, which is pumped into the cell by specialised proteins. And this could be prostate cancer's weak link.

Dr Jeff Holst and his team at the Centenary Institute found, in a study to be published this month in Cancer Research, that prostate cancer cells have more pumps than normal.

This allows the cancer cells to take in more leucine and outgrow normal cells.

"This information allows us to target the pumps - and we've tried two routes. We found that we could disrupt the uptake of leucine firstly by reducing the amount of the protein pumps, and secondly by introducing a drug that competes with leucine. Both approaches slowed cancer growth, in essence 'starving' the cancer cells," Jeff says.

First author Dr Qian Wang says by targeting different sets of pumps, the researchers were able to slow tumour growth in both the early and late stages of prostate cancer.

"In some of the experiments, we were able to slow tumour growth by as much as 50 per cent. Our hope is that we could develop a treatment that slows the growth of the cancer so that it would not require surgical removal. If animal trials are successful over the next few years then clinical trials could start in as little as five years," he says.

Jeff says one of the other spin-offs of the discovery is a better understanding of the links between prostate cancer and eating foods high in leucine.

"Diets high in red meat and dairy are correlated with prostate cancer but still no one really understands why. We have already begun examining whether these pumps can explain the links between diet and prostate cancer."

"Given one in nine men in Australia may develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, this discovery could touch thousands of lives."

The publication of the study comes just in time for Movember, a month-long charity drive in which thousands of people around the globe grow moustaches to raise money for men's health issues including prostate cancer.

"This fundamental research tells us more about how prostate and other cancers grow, and will open the way for new treatments in the long term," says Movember chairman Paul Villanti.

"Movember is now one of the largest non-government global funders of prostate cancer research. We strongly support innovative targeted research that leads to significantly improved clinical tests and treatments to reduce the burden of prostate cancer. It's great to see the progress that Dr Holst and his team have made with the support of a Movember Young Investigator grant."

PCFA and Movember have been working together since 2004 to reduce the impact of prostate cancer on Australian men and their loved ones.

PCFA CEO Dr Anthony Lowe says research that has the potential to reduce the impact of prostate cancer on those who are diagnosed is a huge priority for the PCFA's grants program.

"We commend the team at the Centenary Institute on the remarkable progress they are making in this regard," Anthony Lowe says.

"This is part of a body of work that is investigating the very nature of cancer and opening up new avenues for cancer treatment," says Centenary Institute executive director Professor Mathew Vadas.
-end-


Centenary Institute

Related Prostate Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Low risk of cancer spread on active surveillance for early prostate cancer
Men undergoing active surveillance for prostate cancer have very low rates - one percent or less - of cancer spread (metastases) or death from prostate cancer, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Urology®, an Official Journal of the American Urological Association (AUA).

ESMO 2020: Breast cancer drug set to transform prostate cancer treatment
A drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancer can extend the lives of some men with prostate cancer and should become a new standard treatment for the disease, concludes a major trial which is set to change clinical practice.

Major trial shows breast cancer drug can hit prostate cancer Achilles heel
A drug already licensed for the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers is more effective than targeted hormone therapy at keeping cancer in check in some men with advanced prostate cancer, a major clinical trial reports.

The Lancet: Prostate cancer study finds molecular imaging could transform management of patients with aggressive cancer
Results from a randomised controlled trial involving 300 prostate cancer patients find that a molecular imaging technique is more accurate than conventional medical imaging and recommends the scans be introduced into routine clinical practice.

Common genetic defect in prostate cancer inspires path to new anti-cancer drugs
Researchers found that, in prostate cancer, a mutation leading to the loss of one allele of a tumor suppressor gene known as PPP2R2A is enough to worsen a tumor caused by other mutations.

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.

Read More: Prostate Cancer News and Prostate Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.