New strategy proposed to overcome treatment resistance in prostate cancer

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Researchers have discovered what may be a promising new approach for controlling aggressive, treatment-resistant forms of prostate cancer.

Leigh Ellis, PhD, and colleagues at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo, New York, have identified two genes that appear to be simultaneously overexpressed in aggressive prostate cancers resistant to the androgen-targeted treatments enzalutamide and abiraterone acetate.

Although both genes, Top2a and Ezh2, have previously been linked to aggressive prostate cancer, results of this study marked the first recognition of their simultaneous overexpression. Both play multiple roles that include gene regulation within the cell.

“In two independent preclinical studies involving prostate cancer models that closely represent the clinical dilemma of resistance to androgen-targeted treatments, our results suggested a high degree of therapeutic efficacy for this approach,” said Ellis, who is Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

“This study deepened our knowledge of the etiology of aggressive prostate cancer and will be the basis of future investigations that we hope will lead to discovery of additional biomarkers and therapeutic targets.” The research was published in Oncotarget.

Informed by these latest findings, Ellis and his team intend to zero in on the pathways that are deregulated by the two genes. The team has also implicated the simultaneous overexpression of both genes in other types of cancer, suggesting that the biomarkers could be useful in discovering effective therapies for many disease sites.

Ellis hopes the results of the preclinical trials will lay the groundwork for a clinical trial for patients with prostate cancer whose disease is resistant to enzalutamide and/or abiraterone acetate.

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