Scientists have discovered new way of slowing the growth of prostate cancer.
For the first time experiments have successfully targeted the activity of non-cancerous cells which encourage the tumour to grow.
By changing the way these 'fibroblast' cells behave, scientists were able to slow down the growth of prostate cancer in mice.
Experts say it could form the basis of ‘a revolution’ in the treatment of the disease.
Research found that turning on key genes inside 'fibroblast' cells in prostate tumours dramatically reduced the size of tumours (posed by models)
Lead researcher Dr Axel Thomson, from the MRC unit in Edinburgh, said ‘This is an extremely exciting development that has the potential to form the basis of a revolution in prostate cancer treatments over time if replicated in humans.
‘By targeting the fibroblasts that control the growth of the cancer these new treatments could be both more effective and likely to lead to significantly fewer side effects.'
The research team found that turning on key genes inside 'fibroblast' cells in prostate tumours dramatically reduced the size of the tumours when grown in mice.
Researchers funded by Prostate Cancer UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) say the technique has great potential in humans because some of the cells used were taken from cancer patients.
The breakthrough is being hailed as a revolution (posed by model)
The fibroblasts are situated next to cancer cells and, although not cancerous themselves, encourage the cancer to grow.
Dr Thomson said ‘Our previous research identified a number of ‘puppet-master genes’ - so called because they enable fibroblast cells to control the growth of other cells during the formation of the prostate in the embryo.
'In this follow-up study we found that activating these genes in fibroblasts in tumours enabled us to significantly reduce the growth of prostate cancer in mice.’
The findings are published today (thurs) in the science journal Disease Models and Mechanisms (must credit).
Dr Thomson said the research suggests it is possible to turn the rich conditions for growth inside the tumour into 'inhospitable’ conditions.
He said material taken from prostate cancer patients during surgery was actually used in the research.
'This makes it more likely that if and when we progress to research involving humans, it will work.
'It will take 10 years and more to bring this approach to the bedside but we believe it is an entirely different way of targeting tumour growth’ he added.
Dr Thomson said it was possible synthetic proteins could be used, possibly by infusion into the bloodstream, that would target the fibroblasts in tumour cells to slow down or even halt their activity.
The findings are part of an ongoing body of Prostate Cancer UK funded research exploring how the environment surrounding cancer cells affects tumour growth.
It builds on a growing body of evidence which suggests that the non-cancerous fibroblast cells within prostate tumours could be a key target for successful treatments in the future.
Dr Rachel Macdonald, Research Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This is an extremely encouraging development which could have positive and far reaching consequences for prostate cancer treatments in years to come.
'To date, most prostate cancer research has focused on exploring the cancerous cells within the tumour.
By investigating the behaviour of the non-cancerous cells which control tumour development the team has been able to make this groundbreaking discovery.
'The success of this research so far highlights the importance of Prostate Cancer UK's decision to fund research projects that employ more innovative approaches to finding the answers we so desperately need to beat the most common cancer in men.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2229619/Revolution-prostate-cancer-treatment-scientists-new-way-slow-disease.html#ixzz2BecrlLAW
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