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
without a healthy supply
of blood. It has two ways of
making this happen.
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.