MAY 06, 2016 11:13 AM PDT

New Class of Drugs Beats Lethal Prostate Cancer Resistance

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Treated prostate cancer cells
Prostate cancer represents a huge health risk for half the world’s population, as it is the most common form of cancer in men. Despite anticancer treatments, some forms of prostate cancer acquire drug resistance and metastasize. For men with these types of aggressive prostate cancers, scientists found that indirect targeting the networks that feed cancer could be new viable option, especially when all other standard treatments have failed.
 
The estimated number of new prostate cancer cases for 2016 exceeds 180,000 men. Current treatments for the disease are confined to the affected prostate tissue, commonly involving radiation and chemotherapy aimed at the cancer cells in the prostate, or surgical removal of the prostate itself. These standard options are effective for the most part; however, some men develop prostate cancers that no longer respond to treatment. Usually these aggressive forms of prostate cancer are associated with production of abnormal androgen receptors that allow tumor cells to evade hormone therapy.
 
Using a new class of drug called Hsp90 inhibitors, a team from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in the United Kingdom found that drug-resistant prostate cancer was destabilized in a mouse model. Hsp90 is a well-known chaperone protein that helps other proteins to fold properly and be stabilized. Inhibitors of this protein have been under scrutiny for anti-cancer potential.
 
In mouse studies, the team found Hsp90 inhibitors worked by targeting many facets of cancer indirectly. The drug destabilized many proteins that prostate cancer cells require for survival. Furthermore, Hsp90 inhibition also blocked cancer cells from making abnormal forms of the male androgen receptor, which is continuously turned “on” and promotes tumor growth and spread. With the inhibition by the drug, cancer cells are now vulnerable to hormone therapies.
 
“We call Hsp90 inhibitors ‘network drugs’ because they tackle several of the signals that are hijacked in cancer all at once, across a network rather than just a single signalling pathway. These drugs can hit cancer harder than those targeting only one protein and look promising for preventing or overcoming drug resistance,” said Paul Workman, co-leader of the study, and Chief Executive of the ICR.
 
The team found that Hsp90 inhibition was effective against AR-V7, which is the most common androgen receptor variant associated with drug-resistant prostate cancer.  “It’s an exciting discovery which adds a string to the bow of these cancer drugs, and means they could work against prostate cancers that have otherwise stopped responding to treatment,” said Workman.
 
Because the drugs that inhibit Hsp90 are already in clinical trials for other types of cancer, the team hopes the clinical phase for prostate cancer patients will happen swiftly. If successful in clinical trials, this new class of drug could offer a new line of therapy for prostate cancer patients who have otherwise run out of treatment options.
 

Additional source: Institute of Cancer Research, MNT
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 24, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 24, 2019
The Fight Against Lethal Childhood Brain Cancers
Scientists used studies on cell and animal models to reveal insights into lethal childhood brain cancers and find promising drug therapeutics. The deadly c...
DEC 02, 2019
Cancer
DEC 02, 2019
Self-renewing blood stem cells give hope for blood disease treatments
New research details how activating a certain protein may be the key to getting hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to self-renew. The research comes from scie...
DEC 21, 2019
Cancer
DEC 21, 2019
Processed meats containing nitrites linked to cancer
Since 2015, when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified processed meats as Group 1 carcinogens, science has supported the idea that these foods pos...
JAN 02, 2020
Cancer
JAN 02, 2020
The new "tumor-on-a-chip"
In order to mimic the microenvironment of a tumor in the human body, researchers from Kyoto University have developed a device that they are describing as ...
FEB 01, 2020
Cancer
FEB 01, 2020
How does infrared light affect our skin?
New research published recently in The FASEB Journal reports, at last, the effects of visible and infrared light on our skin. According to the study, UV, v...
FEB 17, 2020
Cancer
FEB 17, 2020
Listening in on cancer cells
Research published today in Nature Methods reports a new technique of “listening” to cancer cells. While it may sound odd (no pun intended...
Loading Comments...