Scientists have discovered a molecule that may contribute to making prostate cancer more aggressive. They call it Nogo Receptor 2 (NgR2), and it’s a neuronal molecule. However, they also uncovered a promising treatment that could counter these more aggressive cancers.
As we know, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. In fact, it is second only to skin cancer. Yet, it also remains one of the most treatable with about a 97% five-year survival rate for localized tumors. Researchers estimate that about 3-5% of prostate cancer tumors are aggressive. Or in other words, they grow and spread quickly.
Research suggests that aggressive prostate cancer may be linked to a neuronal molecule known as NEK8. NEK8 is a protein that is involved in cell proliferation, cell death, and DNA repair.
A recent study found that men with aggressive prostate cancer had higher levels of NEK8 in their tumor cells than men with non-aggressive prostate cancer. The study also found that NEK8 was more likely to be expressed in tumor cells that had spread to other parts of the body.
These findings suggest that NEK8 may be a useful biomarker for aggressive prostate cancer. The study also suggests that NEK8 may be a potential target for new treatments for aggressive prostate cancer.
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer is a form of very aggressive prostate cancer. It is driven to become more aggressive due to specific molecules, and currently, researchers are yet to find an effective treatment for it.
Until recently! Where scientists have uncovered and explored new therapies that may be effective at treating neuroendocrine prostate cancer.
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer is rare, however. In fact, it differs from most other kinds of prostate cancer. The most common type is prostate adenocarcinoma.
Even if it is rare though, we know it is very dangerous. Hence, why scientists are hard at work looking for potential treatments. This new research seems to have revealed what makes prostate cancer more aggressive in these specific types.
With this information, they can more easily fight it and develop effective therapies.
Currently, we know adenocarcinoma prostate cancer develops into neuroendocrine prostate cancer. However, how it does this has been unknown for some time.
Research uncovered that mice with neuroendocrine prostate cancer showed high levels of aVb3 molecules. Whereas mice that only had prostate adenocarcinoma didn’t produce these molecules. Which would make this a potential biomarker for identifying neuroendocrine prostate cancer sooner.
How does aVb3 connect to neuronal molecules?
Newfound research showed that although NgR2 is a neuronal molecule, usually present in nerve cells, it is contributing to the transition of regular prostate cancers into more aggressive neuroendocrine prostate cancers.
This is because this neuronal molecule binds the aVb3 molecule present in neuroendocrine prostate cancer cells. Therefore, it would be logical to assume that lowering NgR2 in these environments would reduce the amount of the dangerous aVb3. Numerous experiments later, this indeed seems to be the prevalent result.
In other words, lowering the neuronal molecule in prostate cancer cells lowered the neuroendocrine markers too. Which in turn, limited cancer cells’ abilities to develop and migrate. Suggesting that these neuronal molecules (or NgR2) were definitely responsible, at least in part, for the development of more aggressive prostate cancer.
The challenge ahead now lies in developing an antibody that effectively hampers NgR2’s capabilities and effects.
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