THE PATRICK C. WALSH PROSTATE CANCER RESEARCH FUND AWARDEES
New Ways to Block Cancer’s Spread
Prostate cancer can't grow without a healthy supply of blood, and prostate tumors seem to have two ways of making sure that they'll have enough blood to flourish. One is a process called angiogenesis — sprouting new blood capillaries from blood vessels that are already there. The other involves formative cells from the bone marrow, called mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). These can become new endothelial cells, which — like tiny paving bricks — line the newly formed blood vessels.
Prostate cancer can’t grow
Radiologist Dimitri Artemov, Ph.D., the Beth W. and A. Ross Myers Scholar, is using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technology to follow the progress of these MSCs. Interestingly, he has found that in slow-growing prostate cancer, MSCs are fairly few and far between. But highly aggressive prostate cancer, in comparison, is chock-full of these cells.
Artemov is seeking new ways to "light up" these MSCs, using a molecular contrast agent that targets the cells' surface, so that he can monitor them over the long term, as they become incorporated into new blood vessels. "We also plan to study the effects of antiangiogenic therapy on these cells," he says.