For the first time, researchers have identified a critical molecular “switch” that regulates production of a protein that is essential to the spread and progression of prostate cancer.
In a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, University of Colorado Cancer Center scientists detailed how the switch turns on production of the protein E-Cadherin, which is necessary for the spread of tumor cells from the prostate to other parts of the body (a process known as metastasis).
Researchers noted prostate cancer doesn't kill by destroying the gland; it's only fatal if tumors spread to the bone, lung, liver, or other vital organs. Consequently, controlling that process — by turning off the molecular switch — could be an effective strategy for treating the disease, the scientists said.
Lead researcher Hari Koul, director of urology research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said the findings could also have implications that go far beyond prostate cancer, since E-Cadherin is essential for metastasis in many cancers.
"This could be a real landmark," Koul said. "We see a prerequisite for metastasis and now we have a very clear picture of how to remove this necessary condition for the most dangerous behavior of prostate cancer."
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