prostate cancer discovery

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the patrick c. walsh prostate cancer research fund

Changing the Metabolism of Prostate Cancer

Some of the things that feed cancer are the same old things that feed us: fat, sugar, and protein.

Some of the things that feed cancer are the same old things that feed us: fat, sugar, and protein. Many cancers are glucose-dependent; sugar cranks up the metabolism and helps the cancer grow. An enzyme that makes RNA, called RNA polymerase, or Pol I, also helps feed cancer by driving up its protein production. Pol I is driven by the same factors that drive cancer, and by the loss of genes that are supposed to suppress cancer. In exciting work, cancer molecular biologist Marikki Laiho, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues have shown in mice that targeting the Pol I enzyme can slow the rate of growth in prostate cancer.

So that’s sugar and protein. What about fat? With support from the Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund, Laiho, with Nathaniel Brennen, Ph.D., Brian Simons, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Samuel Denmeade, M.D., are going after that, too. “Remarkably, prostate cholesterol content and synthesis equals that of the liver,” says Laiho. “In this project we will test a linkage between Pol I and the metabolism of lipids,” cholesterol and fat, “and implement combined therapies for synergistic targeting of prostate cancer cells.”

They will be looking for what Laiho calls the “crosstalk” between prostate cancer and the stroma, the tissue in between the cells. They hope that by blocking Pol I and blocking fat metabolism, as well, the dual-pronged effort will be more powerful than either approach by itself. “These studies outline a conceptually new approach that exploits the metabolic dependencies of prostate cancer, and may slow down cancer growth, or delay it altogether.”

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