An international research team, led by MedUni Vienna, has made remarkable progress in unraveling the mechanisms underlying the spread of prostate cancer.
They have found a new method for treatment involving a widely-used diabetes medication. Their groundbreaking findings were published in the journal Molecular Cancer.
Prostate Cancer: Localized vs. Metastatic
While patients with localized prostate cancer typically have a favorable prognosis, those with metastatic forms face a much grimmer outlook. Until now, the exact cause of this metastatic progression has remained elusive.
Lukas Kenner and his team, using a sophisticated mouse model, have made significant strides in understanding the factors governing tumor cell growth.
They pinpointed a protein known as signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). When activated by another protein called interleukin 6 (IL6), STAT3 plays a central role in tumor progression.
Their study revealed that sustained STAT3 activation can prevent the onset of prostate cancer and hinder metastasis.
Conversely, disrupting the STAT3-IL6 pathway in the prostate can lead to substantial tumor growth, metastasis, and increased cancer aggressiveness.
Connecting Diabetes and Cancer
The research team observed that STAT3 activation in the prostate increases the levels of certain cellular components (LKB1/pAMPK) associated with glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes.
These proteins, in turn, inhibit specific cancer molecules (mTOR and CREB), thereby halting tumor growth.
A Potential Treatment Option
Building upon this discovery, Kenner’s team introduced metformin, a common diabetes drug, into their study. The results were promising: metformin significantly slowed down the progression of STAT3-positive prostate cancer.
This finding draws parallels between the metabolism of STAT3-positive prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.
With metformin already available on the market and its established safety profile, this discovery may expedite the development of new treatments for patients with STAT3-positive prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Prevalence
Prostate cancer has consistently ranked as the leading cancer type among Austrian men since 1994.
Although most prostate tumors remain localized and treatable, approximately 20% progress to the incurable metastatic stage. Globally, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men.
This study underscores the potential of repurposing existing medications for new therapeutic applications.
Given metformin’s proven safety profile and widespread availability, the path to clinical trials and potential therapeutic use for prostate cancer patients may be shorter.
However, further research is crucial to validate these findings and establish the exact therapeutic protocols.
For those concerned about prostate cancer, staying informed about the latest research is essential.
The study discussed here was published in the journal Molecular Cancer, marking a significant advancement in prostate cancer research and potential treatment avenues.
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