Boston University Researchers Discover Possible Drug Target for Prostate Cancer

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 11:05
prostate cancer

Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers have discovered new target to prevent castration-resistant prostate cancer metastases.

According to the Eurekalert report, researchers found out that protein BRD4 could be an important new target to prevent castration-resistant prostate cancer metastases.

Under the direction of BUSM's Gerald V. Denis PhD, associate professor of medicine and pharmacology, researchers have long studied a family of three closely related proteins, called BET bromodomain proteins, composed of BRD2, BRD3 and BRD4, which regulate gene expression. BUSM researchers were the first (in the 1990s) to show how these proteins function in human cancer.

The researchers examined prostate cancer cell lines that model common forms of prostate cancer that are resistant to androgen deprivation therapy and found that BRD4, but not similar family members BRD2 or BRD3, regulates the expression of key proteins that directly contribute to prostate cancer disease progression.

"These findings are novel because, until now, it was not clear which of the BET family of proteins regulate transcriptional programs, or how they influence prostate cancer cell morphology (shape and polarity), motility (the ability to move independently) and invasiveness, each of which are associated with ability to metastasize," explained first author Jordan Shafran, PhD, researcher in the department of molecular and translational medicine at BUSM.

According to the researchers, these findings, appear online in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease, are significant because current therapeutic options for castration-resistant prostate cancer are limited and focus primarily on suppressing prostate tumor cells that rely on androgen receptor signaling. "As prostate tumor cells become resistant to therapy, their reliance on androgen receptor signaling is reduced and alternative signaling mechanisms are activated. Out of this complex mixture, the metastatic cells arise," added Denis, the corresponding author.

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