Clearing how a normal and healthy cell becomes cancerous is one of the keys to beat cancer. Understanding the underlying mechanisms behind this process will help not only to better diagnose cancer but also to develop less toxic and more effective therapies. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has cleared an unprecedented mechanism for prostate cancer progression.
Researchers and doctors at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center identified two new key players in the development of prostate cancer: PCA3 and PRUNE2, that come from the same site within the genome. They physically interact and regulate each other’s activity. Renata Pasqualini, senior co-author of the study said: “It’s a completely new regulatory system.” Wadih Arap, Pasqualini’s husband who is also a researcher in the project, added: “We have shown in animals that if we lower PCA3 [in the prostate cells] the animals develop smaller tumors. If we increase PRUNE2, they develop smaller tumors; indeed, it is the first time that a function for the FDA-approved, clinically-used PCA3 biomarker was discovered.”
Webster Cavenee, Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, noted this work “essentially enables the first understanding of molecular mechanisms related to the PCA3/PRUNE2 axis in the development of human prostate cancer, which may well lead to more accurate diagnoses and more appropriate application of therapy in patients with this malignant tumor.” Emmanuel Dias-Neto, senior co-author and researcher at A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in São Paulo, Brazil continued: “The definition of the PCA3 role in prostate cancer adds value to its importance as diagnostic marker but, more importantly, it opens up new therapeutic avenues,” notes Dias-Neto. “Now, not only can PCA3 be a target of an anti-prostate cancer drug, but also PRUNE2, P54 and ADAR1 can be valuable for the design of new therapeutic strategies.”
This is only the beginning, with several roads to travel still until all of these novel mechanisms are cleared, however authors believe there is a potential to clear essential features of prostate, bladder and kidney cancers. “PRUNE2 may prevent the development of prostate cancer. PCA3 down regulates it so if that access can be manipulated, it may be important therapeutically,” concluded Lauer.