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A new ground zero for prostate cancer
Date:7/29/2010

rostate tubules with luminal cells on the inside.

The research adds to previous evidence showing that tissue-specific stem cells possess a dangerous propensity to grow out of control into cancer, says Witte. "There's lots of data that suggest that tissue stem cells which have the ability to self-renew and to differentiate into other cells are at the root of many organ-specific cancers. Now we've found something similar with prostate cancer." Witte says he is now searching for specific subtypes of stem-like basal cells that are the bad actors in this new model of prostate cancer.

Finding the cancer cell of origin has already paid dividends in Witte's career. Some two decades ago, he helped discover that the cells that grow out of control in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are blood-forming stem cells. A close examination of the genetic events that triggered cancer in those cells pointed to two broken genes that fused to create a new gene called BCR-ABL. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration approved Gleevec, a drug that inhibits the BCR-ABL fusion gene product. Gleevec has since shown remarkable potency against CML.

While it may be years before researchers will know whether the new model developed by Witte and colleagues might have a similar impact on prostate cancer, they can at least now begin to use the model to test suspected prostate cancer oncogenes systematically and in a more efficient manner. Any gene can be inserted into the viruses that infect the human basal cells, so researchers can test a large number of genes with the goal of finding new targets for drug development.


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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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