A new study has found why prostate cancer becomes aggressive and resistant after the treatment with anti-androgen therapy.
The study was conducted by scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP).
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for American men.
It is estimated that in 2019, about 30,000 men in the U.S. may die from prostate cancer.
Cancer grows in response to hormones called androgens. Current therapies focus on blocking these hormones.
The treatments have extended survival for many patients.
However, scientists have found that nearly all men will develop resistance to these treatments in the end.
When patients have deadly treatment-resistant prostate cancer, there is no effective treatment to save them.
In the present study, the researchers examined a deadly subtype of prostate cancer called neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC).
They analyzed tissue samples from men with metastatic NEPC and a new mouse model of NEPC.
NEPC often develops after patients get treatment with anti-androgen therapy. The tumor cells are completely new and that is why it is so difficult to treat.
The team found metabolic rewiring and the epigenetic alteration play big roles in this switch.
In the disease, tumor suppressor gene called protein kinase C lambda/iota is down-regulated.
They then found metabolic and epigenetic factors which may prevent treatment resistance from arising.
Moreover, the team found an FDA-approved drug called decitabine may help with NEPC treatment.
The researchers explained that tumors can become resistant to therapies because they can remodel their environment and develop new strategies to evade therapies.
This is similar to the fact that bacteria can gain resistance to antibiotics.
When therapies become more potent and put more stress on tumors, drug resistance becomes more common.
The new study helps scientists understand why targeted treatments for prostate cancer may develop into a more aggressive tumor.
The team believes their finding is a critical first step toward better treatments that can prevent treatment resistance in prostate cancer.
It can help develop better treatments that help grandfathers, fathers, sons around the world.
The team plans to work with SBP’s drug discovery center and other research institutes to identify a drug that can treat cancer.
They hope in the future no man will die from prostate cancer.
One study author is Darren Sigal, M.D., an oncologist at Scripps Clinic and Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The research is published in Cancer Cell.
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