Clues to Prostate Cancer Aggressiveness
Australian researchers have identified a new mechanism in which prostate cancer cells can 'switch' character and become resistant to therapy. These findings, just published in Cell Reports, are an important development in unraveling how an aggressive subtype of prostate cancer, neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC), develops after hormonal therapies.
It is well established that some tumors show increased cellular 'plasticity' in response to new or stressful conditions, such as cancer therapy, says lead researcher Associate Professor Luke Selth, from the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, in a January 5, 2021, press release.
This plasticity allows the cancer cells to adapt and continue to grow by evolving into different cell types that no longer respond to the therapy.
"Increased cellular plasticity is increasingly recognized as a key feature by which prostate cancers become resistant to therapy and progress to a lethal stage," he says. "Our new study reveals that a particular molecule, the microRNA 'miR-194', can enhance this plasticity in prostate cancer, leading to the emergence of NEPC. By targeting miR-194, we were able to slow down and inhibit the growth of prostate cancer models with neuroendocrine features."