The Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund   

 Why Does Cancer Hardly Ever Start in the Seminal Vesicles?  

prostate cancer
Laiho: Seminal vesicles may 
hold the key for protecting 
the prostate from cancer.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could somehow trick cancer cells into killing themselves? Scientists Samuel Denmeade, M.D., The Carolyn and Bill Stutt Scholar, and John Isaacs, Ph.D., The R. Christian B. Evensen Scholar working with Danish researchers, have been working to develop and test an agent that can do just that. Technically, it’s not a drug but a “prodrug” – a compound that is biologically inactive when it goes into the body, but that turns into a drug once it’s metabolized.

Like ruthlessly efficient riot-control 
police, the seminal vesicle tissue quelled 
the disturbance very quickly, and did not 
pass on genetic damage. 
But the prostate cancer cells, in effect, 
caved in and waved the white flag.

“The results were strikingly different,” she notes. The radiation-treated seminal vesicle cells displayed “effective and competent cell cycle arrest.” Like ruthlessly efficient riotcontrol police, they quelled the disturbance very quickly – and did not pass on genetic damage to the next generations of cells. But the prostate cancer cells, in effect, caved in and waved the white flag, putting up no visible resistance. “The prostate cells continued their proliferation unabated,” says Laiho. “They failed to activate a key damage-surveillance protein, p53.” Laiho believes that this work points to “a fundamental difference between the cell types and strengthens the notion that the capability to respond and repair DNA damage is vitally important to the health of the cells.”

If scientists can unlock the secrets of the seminal vesicles, it may one day be possible to beef up the prostate’s ability to protect itself from genetic damage – and this, in turn, may help prevent cancer, or slow down its growth.

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