Why Prostate Cancer Spreads

Prostate cancer metastasis cellular mechanisms being studied

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) While prostate cancer is never an easy diagnosis to deal with, the options available to treat it have drastically increased lifespan and improved patient comfort. Unfortunately, as with all cancers, metastasis changes everything.

In light of this, the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health has granted Wayne State University $363,660 to investigate the cellular mechanisms involved in prostate cancer metastasis to bone.

"Discuss prostate cancer screening schedules with your doctor."

"Our research aims to investigate the contribution of a receptor known as c-kit in the metastasis of prostate cancer to the bone," says lead investigator, R. Daniel Bonfil, M.D., Ph.D, an associate professor of urology and pathology in WSU's School of Medicine.

In the lab, prostate cancer cells express the cellular receptor c-kit when grown next to bone cells. However, when bone cells are not present, the c-kit receptor does not show up.

Cellular receptors are the foundation for cell to cell interactions and communication, and can serve as identifying markers of different types of cells, or targets for pharmaceuticals. Although not always well understood, thousands exist, with more being identified every year.

Researchers believe that with their project, c-kit may someday present a good target for prostate cancer drugs to avoid or directly attack bone metastasis, a previously unreachable goal.

Prostate cancer metastasis to bone is a particularly difficult problem since the metastasis frequently does not respond to chemotherapy. With more research, therapies and better outcomes should follow.

"Through our previous research, we have reported for the first time that the expression of the c-kit receptor is augmented in bone metastasis of prostate cancer patients, Dr. Bonfil said. 

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Review Date: 
January 21, 2012
Last Updated:
January 23, 2012