Researchers, funded by Prostate Cancer UK and the Medical
Research Council (MRC), believe they have discovered an entirely
new way of slowing the growth of prostate cancer. The findings,
published today in Disease Models and
Mechanisms, could lead to new and more highly targeted
treatments for the disease in the future.
The research team found that turning on key genes inside
'fibroblast' cells in prostate tumours dramatically reduced the
size of the tumours when grown in mice. Further research is now
needed to confirm that this approach has the same effect on
prostate cancers in humans.
Lead researcher, Dr Axel Thomson, said: "Our previous research
identified a number of 'puppet-master genes' - so called because
they enable fibroblast cells to control the growth of other cells
during the formation of the prostate in the embryo. In this
follow-up study we found that activating these genes in fibroblasts
in tumours enabled us to significantly reduce the growth of
prostate cancer in mice.
"This is an extremely exciting development that has the
potential to form the basis of a revolution in prostate cancer
treatments over time if replicated in humans. By targeting the
fibroblasts that control the growth of the cancer these new
treatments could be both more effective and likely to lead to
significantly fewer side effects."
The findings are part of an ongoing body of Prostate Cancer UK
funded research exploring how the environment surrounding cancer
cells affects tumour growth. It builds on a growing body of
evidence which suggests that the non-cancerous fibroblast cells
within prostate tumours could be a key target for successful
treatments in the future.
Dr Rachel Macdonald, Research Manager at Prostate Cancer
UK, said: "This is an extremely encouraging development which could
have positive and far reaching consequences for prostate cancer
treatments in years to come.
"To date, most prostate cancer research has focused on exploring
the cancerous cells within the tumour. By investigating the
behaviour of the non-cancerous cells which control tumour
development the team has been able to make this groundbreaking
discovery. The success of this research so far highlights the
importance of Prostate Cancer UK's decision to fund research
projects that employ more innovative approaches to finding the
answers we so desperately need to beat the most common cancer in
Prostate Cancer UK recently launched its MANifesto, which
included the announcement of its largest research spend to date.
Thanks to the support of The Movember Foundation, the charity
will triple its research spend over the next 3 years to fund £25
million, making it the largest single funder of research into
prostate cancer in the UK.
The study will be available on line at dmm.biologists.org/lookup/doi/10.1242/dmm.010355
Lead author Dr Axel Thomson is also available for interview on
For a full copy of the study in advance, or to set up an
interview please contact Prostate Cancer UK's
Press Office on 0208 222 7633, 07984325001 or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors
Prostate Cancer UK
Prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate
cancer and enjoy a better quality of life. We support men and
provide vital information. We find answers by funding research into
causes and treatments. And we lead change, raising the profile of
the disease and improving care. We believe that men deserve
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in
the UK. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every
year. Every hour 1 man dies from prostate cancer.
African Caribbean men are 3 times more likely to develop
prostate cancer than white men of the same age.
Anyone concerned about prostate cancer can call Prostate Cancer
UK's confidential Helpline on 0800 074 8383 or visit www.prostatecanceruk.org.
The helpline is staffed by specialist nurses and open from 10am to
4pm on Monday to Friday and from 7 - 9pm on Wednesdays.
Medical Research Council
For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved
the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting
the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class
scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a
flourishing environment for internationally recognised research.
The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial
muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs,
including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of
DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC
funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges
of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk