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New Study Raises Questions About Prostate Cancer Therapies Targeting Insulin-Like Growth Factor Receptor
Date:5/1/2008

SEATTLE, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Therapies under development to treat prostate cancer by inhibiting the ability of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) to activate its target receptor could have unexpected results, especially if a major tumor suppressor gene -- p53 -- is already compromised, according to new research by investigators at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

IGF-1 is a polypeptide hormone that can influence growth, differentiation and survival of cells expressing the type 1 receptor (IGF-1R). Past clinical, epidemiological and experimental studies have strongly implicated IGF-1 as a contributing factor in the natural history of prostate cancer. However, very little has been done to prove absolutely that the expression or activation of the IGF-1 signaling pathway at physiologically relevant levels is sufficient to cause a healthy prostate cell to become a cancer cell.

Norman Greenberg, Ph.D., and colleagues conducted a pair of experiments by manipulating gene expression directly in the epithelial compartment of the mouse prostate gland to better understand the role of IGF-1R. In contrast to studies that correlated elevated levels of IGF-1 with the risk of developing prostate cancer, Greenberg's research showed that eliminating IGF-1R expression in an otherwise normal mouse prostate caused the cells to proliferate and become hyperplastic. Although persistent loss of IGF-1R expression ultimately induced cell stasis and death, both of these processes are regulated by the tumor suppressor gene p53 that is commonly mutated in human prostate cancers. Hence the researchers hypothesized that tumors with compromised p53 might not respond predictably to therapies targeting IGF1 signaling.

To test their reasoning they conducted a second experiment by crossing mice carrying the prostate-specific IGF-1R knockout alleles with transgenic mice that develop spontaneous prostate cancer when p53 and select other genes are compromised. The resul
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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