Novel, Highly Specific Therapeutic Target for Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer Identified by VPC Scientists

Date Posted: 
2015-07-30

Drs. Akamatsu, Wyatt, Gleave and Collins and their team at the VPC have published the result of their ground-breaking work identifying a gene called PEG10 as a novel and highly-specific therapeutic target for neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) ("The placental gene PEG10 promotes progression of neuroendocrine prostate cancer", Cell Reports, published online).

NEPC is the most common form of prostate cancer that does not rely on the androgen receptor. There are few treatments for NEPC, and due to its fast growth rate and ability to metastasize, patient life expectancy after NEPC diagnosis is short. NEPC can evolve from typical prostate cancer by an adaptive response of the cancer cells while under the stress of treatment.

The team studied this adaptive response and identified key genes that were associated with the malignant aspects of clinical NEPC. One of the genes with increased expression, PEG10, is a gene that is normally only 'switched-on' during the development of the placenta. When PEG10 is aberrantly switched-on again early during NEPC development, it increases proliferation of cancer cells and promotes metastasis. Blocking PEG10 activity in model systems resulted in reduced tumor growth and restricted invasion of the surrounding normal tissue.

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