A New “Twist” in Fighting Metastasis
Volume 9, Winter 2013
Laiho: Seminal vesicles may
hold the key for protecting
the prostate from cancer.
When it begins, as cancers go, prostate cancer is not that bad. It’s contained within the prostate, and in its early stages, its cells are fairly orderly-looking under the microscope. But metastatic cancer is a different animal. Its cell borders become increasingly ragged and blobby, as the cancer divests itself of the things that once made it a lawabiding citizen. What happens to these cells? What makes them change so much? And here’s the million-dollar question: Could it be possible to redeem these cells – to give them a “do-over,” a second chance at good behavior?
Could it be possible to redeem metastatic cells –
Tran’s work is a testament to how far we have come in the fight against prostate cancer. Once, there was metastasis, and we watched it happen, feeling powerless. Then, we began to understand that metastasis is not one invincible enemy, but a process, with intricate but definable steps. One of these specific steps is EMT. And even this can be broken down into smaller steps – each a potential chink in the armor of metastatic cancer, a possible target for new strategies and weapons. “TWIST 1 is an important protein that drives EMT,” says Tran , The Phyllis and Brian L. Harvey Scholar. “It changes the way that genes are turned on and off. A major goal of our lab is to better predict and treat men whose tumors are more likely to metastasize by understanding the pathways and mechanisms involved in TWIST 1 protein activity.”
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