Prostate cancer breakthrough
A major cancer breakthrough has been made, with scientists able to identify the molecule which allows the disease to spread for the first time.
The findings were confirmed by a team at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia yesterday and are being hailed as a milestone in the health arena.
Cancer is known to metastasise (spread), and it is often when this happens that the disease becomes untreatable. This means finding the molecule which enables the process could be vital, with the researchers uncovering what allows it to happen when it comes to prostate cancer. The idea is for this to become the backbone for research into drugs to stop this type of cancer moving to a secondary area. Initially it will focus on prostate cancer, but in time it's hoped the discovery could help move treatments related to other cancers on too.
Metastasis tends to be the final stage of cancer and it happens when the DNA of the tumour morphs, allowing cells to move throughout the body via the blood.
Although there is obviously a lot which happens during this process, the new study suggests there is a key molecule which is of central importance. It's called a kinase and it works by helping mutated DNA strands stick together again, so while they would ordinarily have died it helps them stay alive.
Although it was already known that this molecule had something to do with prostate cancer, the new research has linked it to other metastatic processes too.
On top of that, tests on mice who had models of human prostate cancer found that blocking how the molecule worked stopped the disease spreading.
Humans with prostate cancer were looked at too, and a link between having high levels of kinase and developing metastases was found.
Universities in Michigan, California Los Angeles and Columbia, the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and GenomeDx were also involved in the project, with the findings published in journal Cancer Cell.