Targeting the Spread of Prostate Cancer

Prostate CancerIt is well known that early detection of cancer is critical to a successful treatment and recovery. Cancer diagnosed in its late stages is usually far harder to treat as most forms metastasize (spread) to distant parts of the body from its origin.

A new study published in Cancer Cell may provide hope for patients that have advanced forms of cancer, or those diagnosed with a particular cancer known to spread in a short time. The study focused on the treatment of prostate cancer by inhibiting a specific protein, DNA-PKcs.

Metastasis in Prostate Cancer

This single protein, DNA-PKcs and the discovery of its central role involved in the spread of cancer, particularly prostate cancer, holds great potential in cancer treatment. DNA-PKcs is an enzyme that repairs broken or mutated DNA of cancer cells, the cells do not die and thus continue their destructive cycle to multiply and spread. Once in the bloodstream, these cancer cells have the ability to ‘stick’ to distant parts of the body, like bone and continue to multiply.

Doctor Knudsen explains the impact based on their study of DNA-PKcs: "These results strongly suggest that DNA-PKcs is a master regulator of the pathways and signals that lead to the development of metastases in prostate cancer, and that high levels of DNA-PKcs could predict which early stage tumors may go on to metastasize."

Furthermore, high levels of DNA-PKcs were detected in patients with prostate cancer that were not responding to hormone therapy. High levels of this protein found in patients forecast a strong likelihood of metastasis and poor prognosis. Tests in mice with human prostate cancer revealed that blocking the mechanism of DNA-PKcs terminates the spread of the cancer.

Potential Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Based on these remarkable findings, Celgene Corporation, a biotech firm in New Jersey are to begin human clinical trials of patients with late-stage tumors and leukemia. The drug, code-name CC-115, will inhibit DNA-PKcs. Dr. Knudsen also stated that DNA-PKcs could be used as marker in cancer patients to determine whether their cancer will become more aggressive (spread), and based on these findings, implement targeted and robust therapies earlier.

This study could open further capabilities in possibly preventing and treating cancer, particularly in halting cancer’s ability to metastasize and cause extensive damage. Further research and clinical trials will be able to establish whether this route will be of benefit.

Herzliya Medical Center highly recommends that if you are a man above 40 years of age and with a family history of prostate cancer, to undergo a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE). Similarly, if you experience any unusual symptoms, to undergo prostate cancer screening for evaluation, and if required, necessary treatment performed by our highly experienced specialists.

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