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Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered a protein that may drive the growth of prostate cancer cells that are either vulnerable or resistant to hormone therapy. These findings may lead to the development of new drugs to help men who, though a lab test, find out they have prostate cancer.
One of the first lines of treatment against prostate cancer is medication to block the effects of hormones that stimulate the malignant cells. However, most men eventually become resistant to these drugs, leading to a more aggressive disease.
The new study reveals that the protein paxillin may promote the growth of both cancer cells that are receptive to hormone therapy, and malignancies that are resistant to this medical approach.
Before therapy begins, paxillin works with androgens to turn on genes that support cancer cell proliferation. If, after therapy begins, the malignancy becomes resistant, paxillin continues to support the cancer by working with other natural growth factors.
"Paxillin has important functions in the cytoplasm, like helping cells communicate with each other to form organs and other structures," said researcher Stephen Hammes, M.D., Ph.D. "If we can target paxillin in the nucleus where it mediates cancer cell growth, but leave it intact in the cytoplasm so it can continue to do the important work it does there, that would be the goal."
In the meantime, men who are concerned about their prostate health may undergo a lab test to detect protein markers of cancer.
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