Written by sciencedaily.com Friday, 04 November 2011 18:28
“Given one in nine men in Australia may develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, this discovery could touch thousands of lives.”
Researchers at the Centenary Institute in Sydney have discovered a potential future treatment for prostate cancer—through starving the tumor cells of an essential nutrient they need to grow rapidly. Their work, with human cells grown in the lab, reveals targets for drugs that could slow the progress of early and late stage prostate cancer. The research has been funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and Movember.
Each year about 3,300 Australian men die of prostate cancer. It’s Australia’s second worst cancer killer for men, matching the impact of breast cancer on women.
Current therapies for prostate cancer include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation, freezing the tumor or cutting off the supply of the hormone testosterone—but there are often side effects, including incontinence and impotence.
Growing cells need an essential nutrient, the amino acid called leucine, which is pumped into the cell by specialized proteins. And this could be prostate cancer’s weak link.
Dr. Jeff Holst and his team at the Centenary Institute found, in a study to be published this month in Cancer Research, that prostate cancer cells have more pumps than normal. This allows the cancer cells to take in more leucine and outgrow normal cells.
“This information allows us to target the pumps—and we’ve tried two routes. We found that we could disrupt the uptake of leucine firstly by reducing the expression amount of the protein pumps, and secondly by introducing a drug that competes with leucine. Both approaches slowed cancer growth, in essence ‘starving’ the cancer cells,” Dr. Holst said.