Scientists investigate metastatic prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer
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A research team from the Medical University of Vienna (MUV) has discovered specific changes in a protein that results in metastatic prostate cancer.

What is the life expectancy of someone with metastatic prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer remains localised in a majority of cases, which provides those affected individuals with a better chance of survival. However, 20% of patients develop incurable metastatic prostate cancer, which results in approximately 5,000 deaths each year in Austria alone.

Currently, medical research into the topic of metastatic prostate cancer has not yet adequately explained why metastases occur in some people and not in others.

A research team at MUV has discovered specific changes in a protein that drives the growth and spread of prostate cancer.

This study has been published in the journal Molecular Cancer.

What did scientists discover about changes in protein?

Researchers investigated the role of the protein KMT2C in metastatic prostate cancer. KMT2C is a genetic component that essentially functions as a regulator of central cellular processes. If KMT2C loses this regulatory ability, due to typical cancer-related mutations, this encourages the proliferation of the cancer gene MYC. This in turn causes cells to divide at an increased rate, impacting both growth and spread of cancer.

“Our study provides new insights into the previously poorly understood transition from localised prostate cancer to terminal metastatic prostate cancer,” explained Lukas Kenner, lead of the study from the Department of Pathology at MUV, who has previously worked at the Comprehensive Cancer Centre of MUV, the University Hospital Vienna, the Department of Laboratory Animal Pathology at Vetmeduni Vienna, and the K1 Center CBmed.

Additionally, the knowledge gained about the effects of KMT2C mutations may also generate new momentum for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

How will this aid in the early detection of aggressive cancer?

KMT2C mutation status can be measured via a blood test, which means an earlier diagnosis of potentially aggressive progression in prostate cancers. Furthermore, MYC inhibitors could be utilised to prevent increased cell division and metastasis, and it is intended for further scientific studies to substantiate this.

MYC inhibitors are fundamentally new cancer treatment drugs that have already been tested in clinical trials and – if further studies confirm this – could also be utilised in metastatic prostate cancer treatment in the next few years.

“Since a high level of KMT2C mutation characterises many types of cancer, such as breast, lung, colorectal, bladder, and even skin cancer, our study results have a great deal of potential in the research, diagnosis and treatment of malignant cancers in general,” concluded Lukas Kenner.


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