UCLA scientists have identified for the first time a cell-of-origin for human prostate cancer, a discovery that could result in better predictive and diagnostics tools and the development of new and more effective targeted treatments for the disease.
The researchers, from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, proved that basal cells found in benign prostate tissue could become human prostate cancer in mice with suppressed immune systems, a finding that bucks conventional wisdom. It had been widely believed that luminal cells found in the prostate were the culprits behind prostate cancer because the resulting malignancies closely resembled luminal cells, said Dr. Owen Witte, a Jonsson Cancer Center member and director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center.
"Certainly the dominant thought is that human prostate cancer arose from the luminal cells because the cancers had more features resembling luminal cells," said Witte, senior author of the study and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "But we were able to start with a basal cell and induce human prostate cancer and now, as we go forward, this gives us a place to look in understanding the sequence of genetic events that initiates prostate cancer and defining the cell signaling pathways that may be at work fueling the malignancy, helping us to potentially uncover new targets for therapy."
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