Mayo Clinic: Researchers Find Enzyme Linked to Prostate Cancer, Inhibitor

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus have identified an enzyme specifically linked to aggressive prostate cancer.

Additionally, they have also developed a compound that inhibits the ability of this enzyme to promote the metastatic spread of the cancer.

This is great news for all persons who may have prostate cancer, and those who may develop it sometime in the near future.

The study, published in the online edition of Molecular Cancer Research on December 18, is the first study linking the enzyme PRSS3 to prostate cancer.

Dr. Evette Radisky, Ph.D., the study’s senior investigator and a cancer biologist at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, along with five other scientists from the Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus discovered the enzyme’s molecular link to prostate cancer from examination of other clinical studies containing data indicating irregular “on” switching of cancer molecules. The team had previously discovered a link between this protease enzyme and early-stage breast cancer.

“This molecule is a protease, which means it digests other molecules. Our data suggests PRSS3 activity changes the environment around prostate cancer cells – perhaps by freeing them from surrounding tissue – to promote malignancy and invasiveness.” Said Dr. Radisky, adding, “I don’t think PRSS3 is the only factor involved in driving aggressive prostate cancer, but it may be significant for a certain subset of this cancer – the kind that is potentially lethal.”

“The link between PRSS3 activity and aggressive prostate cancer jumped out at us,” Dr. Radisky indicated, “we found a definitive trend of increasing PRSS3 expression with cancer progression.”

Working with mice with previously developed prostate cancer, the scientists discovered that expression of the protease enzyme was critical for prostate cancer metastasis. There was no metastasis of the cancer in the mice in which the PRSS3 enzyme had been silenced.

These scientific findings will have multiple future clinical applications.

The discovery of this enzyme may lead to earlier detection of aggressive prostate cancer outcomes. “We might be able to test prostate cancer patients for the presence of this molecule, to help identify those who are most at risk for aggressive cancer.” Says Dr. Radisky.

Article by Jim Donahue

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