Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common Prostate Cancer: A Different Process Altogether?

Date:
March 4, 1999
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Nearly 90 percent of prostate cancers -- "the typical, garden varieties," according to Johns Hopkins scientists -- are linked to a previously unsuspected but common genetic process that could be reversible. The process looks to be a fundamental one in cancer and appears in other common forms of the disease, like breast cancer.

Nearly 90 percent of prostate cancers -- "the typical, garden varieties," according to Johns Hopkins scientists -- are linked to a previously unsuspected but common genetic process that could be reversible. The process looks to be a fundamental one in cancer and appears in other common forms of the disease, like breast cancer.

Unlike cancers due to mutations that make structural changes in a gene, such as the colon cancers that run in families, most prostate cancer may involve a process called "gene switching," the researchers say. Switching occurs when certain members of a family of genes are switched on while others in the family shut down. "It's a process common during embryonic development," says molecular pathologist Shrihari S. Kadkol, M.D., Ph.D., one of the researchers in a study appearing today in Nature Medicine, "but we believe this is the first time anyone's definitively linked gene switching within a family of genes, with cancer."

"Most important is that someday, it's likely we can reverse switching with drugs," says molecular pathologist Gary R. Pasternack, M.D., Ph.D., who led the Hopkins research team. "This means one of the commonest cancers in men has the potential of being corrected without using typical gene therapy."

In their work, the scientists used molecular probes to highlight and compare the gene activity in cancer patients' normal prostate tissue with that of their tumors. The investigators found clear evidence that a gene called pp32 was switched on in normal cells but generally switched off in cancer cells. Earlier studies by the team showed pp32 acts as a suppressor and keeps cells from turning malignant.

Yet close relatives of the gene, to the researchers' surprise, act like pp32's genetic evil twins and encourage tumor growth. The pp32r1 and pp32r2 genes are present and turned on in perhaps 90 percent of the prostate cancers the team studied.

"We first thought pp32 had just mutated," says Kadkol, "but the types of differences between it and the variant genes told us this wasn't the case." The researchers say switching could be a fundamental process in cancer, and they've already linked it with common forms of breast cancer. "In the breast cancer patients we've examined," says Kadkol, "we saw this same pp32 switching pattern."

"If we can understand how the switching process works, what controls it," adds Pasternack, "we can potentially reverse it. That's our next task." If their work goes smoothly, he adds, they could screen and find drugs for this purpose within two years. Then the candidate investigational drug would undergo the usual FDA-sponsored tests in people.

"We also believe this work may have a role in diagnosis or in predicting disease outcome," says Pasternack. "Prostate specific antigen (PSA), the present common screen for prostate cancer, doesn't always tell the complete story or, particularly in older men, doesn't let us make a clear prognosis. This might help."

The prognostic studies are already underway as part of a congressionally-sponsored project with the Army to hasten select basic research into clinical applications. The reported study was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute. A patent is pending on the technology involved in the study. Other researchers are Jonathan R. Brody, Jining Bai, Ph.D., and Jonathan Pevsner, Ph.D.

Related Web sites: http://pathology.jhu.edu/research_programs (molecular pathology)

A photograph of prostate cancer cells lit up with the "bad" form of pp32 is available online (http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu/NewsMedia/press/1999/FEBRUARY/pp32.htm) or as a hard copy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Common Prostate Cancer: A Different Process Altogether?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990304051950.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (1999, March 4). Common Prostate Cancer: A Different Process Altogether?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990304051950.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Common Prostate Cancer: A Different Process Altogether?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990304051950.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins