New findings about where and how aggressive forms of prostate cancer potentially begin may lead to new therapies for hard-to-treat and lethal forms of the disease.
A research team led by Dean Tang, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, solved a medical mystery by proving that the basal cell layer in the prostate gland contains self-renewing adult stem cells, with a gene expression profile that overlaps that of aggressive and endocrine therapy-resistant prostate cancers.
This new discovery by MD Anderson researchers, published recently in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that these particular cells might be the cells-of-origin in aggressive prostate cancer. Until now, the question of whether and where stem cells were present in the human prostate has been a constant source of debate.
The American Cancer Society estimates that one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. Most forms of the disease are slow-growing, but certain prostate cancers are more aggressive and spread quickly outside the confines of the prostate gland.
“Our findings may help establish a potential new line of treatment for these highly aggressive and potentially lethal forms of prostate cancer,” Tang said.