Researchers discover effective method for killing prostate cancer cells

Washington, DC By blocking a protein key to prostate cancer cell growth, researchers at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University have discovered a way to trigger extensive prostate cancer cell death. This finding opens a new window for developing targeted treatments aimed at destroying prostate cancer cells before they have the opportunity to grow or spread. The study is published in the April 29 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"By preventing the Stat5 protein from being active, we were able to effectively kill human prostate cells," said Marja Nevalainen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. "It's similar to using a weed killer -- poison ivy cannot take over the backyard if we don't allow the leaves to breathe. If we stop this protein, which in turn stops the growth of prostate cancer cells, we are one step closer to managing the spread and growth of cancer in the prostate."

Recent understanding of the correlation between prolactin, a hormone produced by male and female pituitary glands, and how it promotes growth of cells in the prostate led to this new study. Pioneering work by Dr. Nevalainen and colleagues established that prolactin serves as a local growth factor for prostate cells and that Stat5 is the specific signaling device for prolactin in prostate cells. In other words, Stat5 acts as an internal signaling device within the cell, receiving and sending messages of prolactin to the cell's DNA.

In the new study, Nevalainen explored what happens if the activation of Stat5 in prostate cancer cells is blocked. Using human prostate cancer cell lines and viral gene delivery of an inhibitory mutant of Stat5, Nevalainen and her colleagues found that blocking the activity of this protein in prostate cancer cells will trigger extensive cell death.

"Once prostate cancer has metastasized, or spread, men have few treatment options other than chemotherapy and

Contact: Elizabeth McDonald
Georgetown University Medical Center

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