A protein that is crucial for regulating the self-renewal of normal prostate stem cells, which are needed to repair injured cells or restore normal cells killed by hormone-withdrawal therapy for cancer, also aids the transformation of healthy cells into prostate cancer cells, researchers at UCLA have found.
The findings, by scientists with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, may have important implications for controlling cancer growth and progression.
Results from the three-year study, done in primary cells and in animal models, were published Dec. 2 in the early online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Cell Stem Cell.
The protein, called Bmi-1, is often up-regulated, or turned on, in prostate cancer. It has been associated with higher-grade cancers and is predictive of poor prognosis, according to previous studies. However, its functional roles in prostate stem cell maintenance and prostate cancer have been unclear, said the study’s senior author, Dr. Owen Witte, director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. (more…)