URMC researchers discover new prostate cancer research
Posted at: 07/24/2012 11:15 AM
| Updated at: 07/24/2012 5:40 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center say new research could offer hope for people with advanced prostate cancer.
They are not ready to call it a major breakthrough, but researchers say it is a possible new route for tackling treatment resistant prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men.
Essentially, nearly all prostate cancers treated with hormone therapy become resistant over a period of months or years and the cancer makes what researchers call an “unwelcome comeback.” The new data seems to show a way to target the substance that’s causing those cancer cells to grow.
Dr. Stephen Hammes says this is not a major breakthrough.
Dr. Hammes said, “We’ll, it’s an important starting point for trying to understand how to treat prostate cancer.”
Dr. Stephen Hammes is both a medical doctor and has a Ph.D. in the field of endocrinology. He’s on the hunt for a way to attack those cancer cells that are resistant to hormone therapy.
Dr. Hammes said, “Hormone therapy where you try to eliminate those hormones that allow prostate cancer cells to grow. And that works for a while but eventually that stops working. And then the cells grow even though there are no hormones around, they figure out a way to do it anyway.”
Dr. Hammes and fellow researcher Aritro Sen have discovered a possible culprit and a way to attack it. A protein in every cell that holds the cell together and allows it to interact with other cells, but when it invades the cell nucleus, it can play havoc with genes and DNA.
Dr. Hammes said, “It goes into the nucleus of normal cells as well but it's controlled. It goes in a controlled way. But in cancer, what happens is it happens in an uncontrolled way. So signals that are normally just enough to make cells grow but not out of control, in cancer they go out of control.”
Most prostate cancers are slow-growing and can be cured with radiation or surgery. The hope is finding a new treatment to target cancers that are more aggressive.
Dr. Hammes said, “We started looking at this molecule in a frog. And now we found out that it might be important in a cancer cell. And it just shows you how even the smallest project in the laboratory can have some meaning.”
They stress there’s a lot of things about cancer that they don’t understand, so they think they’ve found one small piece and can build on it. Researchers say this is a promising step forward, but don’t expect any new drug available in a clinical setting anytime soon.