NCI Grant to Probe Link Between Prostate Cancer and Fatty Cells in Bone Marrow

NCI Grant to Probe Link Between Prostate Cancer and Fatty Cells in Bone Marrow
A five-year grant of more than $2 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will support research investigating the link between prostate cancer cells and the fatty cells — adipocytes — found in bone marrow. Izabela Podgorski, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Michigan, will lead the project being funded by the the NCI, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. Podgorski was the first researcher to suggest, in 2010, there could be a link between both cell types. “In the past few years our studies, and others, began to reveal that when you have tumor cells in the bone marrow they trigger some changes in the metabolism of adipocytes, and those changes ultimately help the tumor cells to survive and escape therapy,” Podgorski said in a press release. She also is co-leader of the Prostate Cancer Research Team at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, If not detected early, prostate cancer can spread rapidly to other tissues and organs, including the bones of the pelvis, hips, and ribs, as well as lymph nodes, and liver. According to Podgorski, when cancer cells spread to bones, forming the so-called bone metastases, patients’ five-year survival rates plummet to less than 30%. If prostate cancer cells migrate from bones to other vital organs, patients’ chances of survival drop even more. Based on earlier studies, Podgorski hypothesized that adipocytes living in the bone marrow may help malignant prostate cancer cells to survive and expand inside bones by providing them with fatty acids as a source of energy. Over time, cancer cells push adipocytes to produce and release greater amounts of fatty acids to sustain their fast metabolism and growth, resulting in cancer p
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