Researchers show new way to treat deadly prostate cancer

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Prostate cancer is a disease that can undergo a troubling transformation, evolving from a common form into a highly dangerous one.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center have unraveled the reasons behind this transformation and identified a potential way to halt it.

Typically, men with prostate cancer receive treatment to reduce male hormones, which is effective against the common type of prostate cancer.

However, in some cases, the cancer mutates. Instead of resembling a gland, it adopts the appearance of nerve or brain tissue, resulting in a new, aggressive form known as neuroendocrine prostate cancer.

Dr. Joshi Alumkal, a leading expert at Rogel, explains that in certain instances, newer treatments can inadvertently trigger this transformation, causing the cancer to morph into the neuroendocrine variant.

The Role of a Protein in Dangerous Cancer

Dr. Alumkal and his team dedicated a decade to studying a protein called LSD1.

They discovered that LSD1 sustains the common form of prostate cancer, prompting them to investigate whether it plays a similar role in the aggressive variant.

Their analysis of cancer tissue from patients revealed that neuroendocrine prostate cancer had elevated levels of the LSD1 protein.

In laboratory experiments, when the researchers removed LSD1 from cancer cells, these cells exhibited poor growth. This highlighted the crucial role of LSD1 in supporting this aggressive cancer.

Moreover, the researchers uncovered that LSD1 inhibits the function of another protein called p53, which typically acts as a check on cancer growth. By suppressing p53, LSD1 promotes cancer proliferation.

A Potential Solution to Halt Cancer Growth

Having gained insights into how LSD1 functions, the research team tested drugs that could inhibit its activity. One such drug, called seclidemstat, showed significant promise.

Administering this drug to mice with neuroendocrine prostate cancer effectively halted the cancer’s growth, with some mice experiencing complete recovery. Encouragingly, the drug did not induce illness in the mice.

Dr. Alumkal believes that this research provides hope for combating this aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Notably, the drug they tested is already under investigation for another disease, potentially facilitating its evaluation for prostate cancer treatment in the near future.

If successful, it could represent a valuable treatment option for this dangerous variant of prostate cancer.

Furthermore, Dr. Alumkal envisions that their findings may hold promise for addressing other types of cancer, not limited to prostate cancer.

This is because the p53 protein, which LSD1 inhibits, plays a crucial role in numerous cancer types. If scientists can devise strategies to enhance p53’s functionality, it could open new avenues for treating various forms of cancer.

This study was published in JCI Insight.

If you care about prostate cancer, please read studies about 5 types of bacteria linked to aggressive prostate cancer, and new strategy to treat advanced prostate cancer.

For more information about prostate cancer, please see recent studies about new way to lower risk of prostate cancer spread, and results showing three-drug combo boosts survival in metastatic prostate cancer.

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