New discovery may lead to effective targeted treatments for prostate cancer: UCLA
April 12, 2016
"There are very few examples of taking benign cells and turning them into cancer experimentally," Goldstein said. "We usually study cancer cell lines created from malignant tumors. This study resulted in the creation of a novel model system that is highly adaptable, such that we can test any cellular pathway and its interactions with other genes known to induce cancer, and we can start with any type of cell as long as it can be reproducibly purified."
In this system, Witte and Goldstein know the "history" of the cells that became cancer, unlike the cancer cells lines used in other work.
"We know those cells are malignant, but we don't know how they got there," Goldstein said. "By starting with healthy cells and turning them into cancer, we can study the cancer development process. If we understand where the cancer comes from, we may be able to develop better predictive and diagnostic tools. If we had better predictive tools, we could look earlier in the process of cancer development and find markers that are better than the current PSA test at catching disease early, when it is more treatable."
Rising PSA levels can indicate the presence of cancer that is already developing in the prostate. However, now that it is known that basal cells are one root of human prostate cancers, scientists can study pre-malignant basal cells and uncover what they express that the healthy ones don't, perhaps revealing a new marker for early detection, Goldstein said. Also, a therapy directed at the pre-malignant basal cells about to become malignant could provide a way to prevent the cancer before it becomes dangerous.
This year alone, more than 217,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of those, more than 32,000 will die from their disease.
Source: University of California - Los Angeles