Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers identify promising cancer drug target in prostate tumors

Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report they have blocked the development of prostate tumors in cancer-prone mice by knocking out a molecular unit they describe as a "powerhouse" that drives runaway cell growth.

In an article that is being published today as an advanced online publication by the journal Nature, the researchers say the growth-stimulating molecule called p110beta -- part of a cellular signaling network disrupted in several common cancers -- is a promising target for novel cancer therapies designed to shut it down. The report's lead authors are Shidong Jia, MD, PhD, Zhenning Liu, PhD, Sen Zhang PhD, and Pixu Liu, MD, PhD.

The p110beta molecule and a counterpart, p110alpha, are "isoforms" -- slightly different forms – of an enzyme called PI(3)K that is an intense focus of cancer research and drug development. PI(3)K is the linchpin of a cell-signal pathway that responds to growth factor signals from outside the cell.

When activated by growth factor receptors, PI(3)K turns on a cascade of genes and proteins that drives cells to divide and grow. The molecular accelerator is normally kept under control by a tumor-suppressor protein, PTEN, which acts like a brake to curb excess cell growth that could lead to cancer.

... more about:
»Inhibitor »PTEN »Zhao »p110alpha »p110beta »prostate

Mutations that inactivate PTEN -- in effect releasing the brake on growth signals -- are found in a significant proportion of prostate, breast and brain tumors. The senior authors of the new report, Jean Zhao, PhD, and Thomas Roberts, PhD, previously showed that blocking p110alpha protein inhibits cancerous growth induced by various cancer-causing proteins, such as Her2 and EGFR. With that knowledge in hand, the researchers, in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, are developing p110alpha blockers.

P110beta, by contrast, was thought to be a relatively insignificant player in tumors. However, "the surprise in this paper is that p110beta has been found to be a bigger player than p110alpha in tumors that result from PTEN loss," noted Zhao. "Now the drug companies, which have been focusing on p110alpha, will have to think about making p110beta inhibitors as well."

Both forms of the p110 molecule have dual tasks: they are involved in responding to insulin signals -- a metabolic function -- as well as relaying growth signals from outside the cell. But the importance of 110beta had been vastly underestimated, the researchers said, for reasons they don't entirely understand.

"We knew that when cells are stimulated with growth factor signals, the activity of p110alpha, but not p110beta, rises rapidly and sharply in triggering excess cell growth," Zhao said. "We speculate that 110beta may be providing a low-level but steady growth stimulus and when PTEN is lost, it becomes an important source of cell proliferation signals."

The new findings stem from experiments in which the scientists disabled the p110beta protein in mice as a way of exploring its normal functions. In one of the experiments, the researchers "knocked out" p110beta in mice that also lacked the PTEN tumor suppressor protein and were therefore highly prone to prostate cancer. Mice that lacked PTEN but had functioning p110beta proteins all developed early prostate cancers by 12 weeks of age. In contrast, the "knockout" mice with no p110beta function remained free of prostate cancer even though the PTEN "brake" had been disabled.

The scientists concluded, as a result, that p110beta becomes a "powerhouse" to drive cancerous cell growth when PTEN function is missing.

In light of the new findings, there is likely to be great interest in finding drugs or other tools to block the p110beta protein in cancers where mutations in PTEN have unleashed the overactive growth signals, said Zhao, who is also an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

The task is made somewhat easier, said Roberts, by the fact that "we know what the inhibitor should look like because of our work on p110alpha inhibitors."

Roberts, who is also a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, said that drugs designed to block the p110alpha form are on their way to clinical testing, but he could not predict when p110beta inhibitors might become available for clinical testing.

Bill Schaller | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Inhibitor PTEN Zhao p110alpha p110beta prostate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>