Nav: Home

Prostate cancer discovery may make it easier to kill cancer cells

December 17, 2015

A newly discovered connection between two common prostate cancer treatments may soon make prostate cancer cells easier to destroy. Drugs that could capitalize on the discovery are already in the pipeline, and a clinical trial to test whether the finding could improve treatments for prostate cancer patients could be only a few years away.

The discovery also may allow doctors to better determine which forms of treatment will most benefit individual patients, and there may be implications for other forms of cancer as well.

An Unexpected Connection

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among American men. Common treatments include radiation and androgen ablation, and researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found an unexpected link between the two.

The researchers determined that a cellular signaling pathway activated by radiation - to halt cell division and allow repair of damage to DNA - also controls cells' sensitivity to androgen, a male hormone prostate cancer cells need for growth. Androgen and androgen sensitivity, in turn, can affect how susceptible prostate cancer cells (and possibly other cancer cells) are to the radiation treatment used to kill them.

"Now we have a novel link between two different standards of care for advanced prostate cancer," said UVA researcher Dan Gioeli, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology and the UVA Cancer Center. "For locally advanced prostate cancer, radiation therapy is one of the standards of care, and that induces DNA damage, which would activate this pathway. Another standard of care for metastatic prostate cancer is androgen ablation, and that acts to inhibit androgen receptor activity. Now we have a new molecular understanding of how those two different standards of care might be connected."

Better Prostate Cancer Treatment

With this new information, doctors may be able to manipulate the signaling pathway, Checkpoint Kinase 2, to make it easier to kill prostate cancer cells. By blocking the signaling process, for example, they might sensitize cancer cells to the radiation intended to destroy them. (Gioeli and his colleagues believe that this signaling may be lost as prostate cancer advances, helping to explain why the disease inevitably becomes resistant to androgen deprivation therapy.)

Major pharmaceutical companies are already developing drugs to inhibit CHK kinases, and Gioeli hopes that this will speed the clinical trial testing that could lead to better prostate cancer treatments. Testing in people might begin in only three to five years, though it may take longer depending on how the work progresses, he said.

"The next steps are to see whether our predictions about ... targeting this pathway could enhance cancer-killing in response to radiation or androgen ablation," Gioeli said. "Perhaps it would lead to a three-way combination where we would be looking at how androgen withdrawal sensitizes tumor cells to radiation therapy and whether we can further enhance that sensitization by inhibiting this pathway."
-end-
Findings Published

The findings have been published online in the journal Cancer Research. The article was written by Huy Q. Ta, Melissa L. Ivey, Henry F. Frierson Jr., Mark R. Conaway, Jaroslaw Dziegielewski, James M. Larner and Gioeli.

University of Virginia Health System

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.