The work of Nelson and Montgomery was inspired, they say, by the work of Jack Geller in the 1980s, which demonstrated that testosterone and potent metabolites could still be found in prostate tumors at levels exceeding those found in the blood, which suggested the cancer could develop its own testosterone. Recent research by Jim Mohler, M.D., Stephanie Page, M.D., Ph.D., and other investigators has also revisited these ideas. In other studies, men without prostate cancer who received androgen-suppressing drugs also showed surprisingly high levels of androgen in their prostates even with low levels in their blood, noted Nelson, and biopsies of the prostate following testosterone suppression in men who have prostate cancer have shown similar results.
The research by the Hutchinson Center/University of Washington team now offers a plausible explanation and mechanism of action for these findings. In the study, researchers removed entire metastases, or tumors, from deceased prostate cancer patients who had agreed to be part of a rapid autopsy research program. At least three tumors were removed from each patient, and examined for androgen levels and the presence of the enzymes responsible for androgen metabolism.
Nelson noted that the study offers directions for future research in this area. The next phase will be to determine the source of androgen precursors. These are likely to be derived from andrenal androgens, or possibly from cholesterol. A key experiment will be to follow these precursor molecules in the cancer cells to see if they are converted to testosterone, said Nelson, hence proving these tumor ce
|Contact: Sharon Reis|