Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine report findings related to how prostate cancer progresses including a window of effectiveness for drugs targeting a particular gene and a potential biomarker.
Previous studies have shown that fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 may have a role in initiating prostate cancer, according to the scientists. The Baylor team thus decided to develop mice that require a synthetic drug to turn on the re-engineered fibroblast growth factor receptor.
As the gene product was activated, the prostate gland began dramatic, synchronized changes characteristic of cancer, report the scientists. When they withdrew the drug, the changes reversed over several weeks until the prostate gland appeared normal.
The scientists also report finding, however, that at a certain time, changes in the tissue reach a point of no-return and transform into adenocarcinoma that does not appear to be reversible. Withdrawing the drug can slow the cancer, they add.
During this study, the investigators also studied the changes prostate cells undergo while they spread outside the gland and into surrounding tissue. Gene expression profiling at distinct stages of tumor progression revealed an increase in EMT-associated Sox9 and changes in the Wnt signaling pathway including Fzd4. They believe that this might prove to be a new marker for human prostate cancer.
The paper appeared on December 10 in Cancer Cell.