Magazine article Science News

Gene Blocks Prostate Cancer's Journey

Magazine article Science News

Gene Blocks Prostate Cancer's Journey

Article excerpt

Like an insidious invader, cancer cells can spread through the bloodstream, spawning tumors at distant sites.

Prostate cancer, however, can be a reluctant traveler. Yet for an unlucky few men, this cancer can metastasize and kill. To date, doctors have had difficulty diagnosing prostate cancers likely to spread.

Now, a study reported in the May 12 Science suggests that prostate cancer patients with reduced expression of a particular gene may run the risk of metastasis.

J. Carl Barrett of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and his colleagues had hints that the KAI1 gene on chromosome 11 retards cancer's lethal movement. When working properly, such a suppressor gene carries the blueprint for a protein that slows the spread of cancer.

Would KAI1 thwart the movement of aggressive prostate cancer cells? To find out, the team first isolated KAI1 from human chromosome 11 and inserted it into prostate cancer cells taken from rats. Next, the researchers injected these treated cancer cells just under the skin of 58 mice. A group of 52 control mice received an injection of rat prostate cancer cells with no human KAI1 gene.

After about 4 to 5 days, the malignant rat cells took hold and produced a cancer at the injection site in both groups of mice. This indicates that KAI1, unlike a classic tumor suppressor gene, is powerless to stop a primary tumor's growth, says Jin-Tang Dong of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. …

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