Scientists have found a treatment that could stop prostate cancer tumor growth. While the treatment has been tried only in mice, the research may be an important step in fighting this disease.
Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Nottingham as well as the University of the West of England have focused on a molecule called SRPK1.
Prostate cancer tumors use SRPK1 to form blood vessels. These blood vessels bring nutrients to the tumors, allowing them to grow and spread. As cancer becomes more aggressive, SRPK1 levels rise.
This process of blood vessel formation – angiogenesis – is largely driven by a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Alternative splicing, a cellular process, plays a role in whether VEGF promotes or stops angiogenesis.
The researchers discovered that a compound, part of a group known as SPHINX compounds, could stop the activity of SRPK1 molecules when injected into mouse models of prostate cancer three times a week.
Doing this could curtail the blood supply to prostate cancer tumors, denying the tumors nutrients needed thrive.
In a press release, co-author Dr. Sebastian Oltean explained, “We reasoned that inhibition of SRPK1 activity could stop cancer progression. Indeed, we show in this paper that if we decrease SRPK1 levels in prostate cancer cells, or in tumors grafted into mice, we are able to switch VEGF splicing and therefore inhibit tumor vasculature and growth.”
Dr. Oltean is affiliated with the University of Bristol’s School of Physiology and Pharmacology.
Professor David Bates, a co-author from the University of Nottingham’s Division of Cancer and Stem Cells added that in time, the study results “may have wider implications to be used in several types of cancers.”
These findings support further study on this type of treatment of prostate cancer, the authors wrote.
The study was published online in November in the journal Oncogene.
“Prostate cancer breakthrough as scientists STARVE tumours of their blood supply – stopping them growing and spreading”
(November 10, 2014)
Mandal, Ananya, MD
“What is VEGF?”
(Last updated: October 9, 2014)
Mavrou, A., et al.
“Serine–arginine protein kinase 1 (SRPK1) inhibition as a potential novel targeted therapeutic strategy in prostate cancer”
(Abstract. November 10, 2014)
University of Bristol
“Molecular breakthrough could halt the spread of prostate cancer”
(Press release. November 10, 2014)