MDA-9/syntenin gene may help detect, manage bladder cancer

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A gene that helps regulate bladder cancer growth and metastasis appears to be a promising target for detecting and monitoring the disease.

Bladder cancer is the most common form of urothelial cancer. Urothelial cell carcinoma rapidly advances from superficial to muscle-invasive tumors, but scientists to date have found no biomarkers for early detection or metastatic progression, explained Paul B. Fisher, MPh, PhD, of the VCU Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, and colleagues in Clinical Cancer Research.

Fisher's earlier discovery of the melanoma differentiation associated gene-9/syntenin (MDA-9/syntenin) gene may change that: He and co-investigators have now demonstrated that MDA-9/syntenin has a role in regulating the growth and metastasis of bladder cancer.

The researchers observed significantly higher expression of MDA-9/syntenin in 28 of 44 primary urothelial cell tumors (64%). They also noted an association between gene expression and tumor stage, grade, and invasion status.

Not only did an increase in the expression of MDA-9/syntenin correlate with disease progression, but suppressing gene expression substantially reduced growth and metastasis of the cancer.

Fisher and associates learned that mda-9/syntenin regulates progression of bladder cancer by binding to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on the surface of the cancer cells. This disrupts a variety of EGFR-related mechanisms that contribute to cancer progression. 

The findings indicated to Fisher's group that MDA-9/syntenin might provide an attractive target for developing detection, monitoring, and therapeutic strategies for managing bladder cancer.
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