UEA researchers make important discovery about how prostate cancer may begin

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have made an important discovery about how prostate cancer can develop.

A new study published today shows that the prostate as a whole, including normal-appearing cells, is different in men with prostate cancer.

It suggests that tissue cells throughout the prostate are primed and ready to develop prostate cancer.

This means that it may be better to treat the entire prostate than just the areas of the prostate that have cancer.

The team hopes their work can help scientists better understand the causes of prostate cancer and even prevent it altogether.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, killing one man every 45 minutes in the UK.

When men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, clusters of cancer cells can often be found in more than one location within the prostate.

We wanted to know if this is due to changes in “normal” prostate cells throughout the prostate.”

Prof. Daniel Brewer, Principal Investigator at UEA’s Norwich Medical School

Cancer is driven by changes in DNA, life’s genetic code, that occur in every cell. The team examined the DNA code in 121 tissue samples from 37 men with and without prostate cancer.

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Prof Brewer said: “The samples we examined included tissue originating from the cancer and tissue from elsewhere in the prostate that appears normal under the microscope.

“This produces a huge amount of data and by using a great deal of computing power we can identify the differences that have occurred in the DNA and give us insight into how the cancer grows.

“We found that ‘normal’ prostate cells from men with prostate cancer had more mutations (changes in DNA) than ‘normal’ prostate cells from men without prostate cancer.

“Based on the genetics of the analyzed samples, we created maps to understand where the different mutations occurred. And we’ve shown that for most men, the mutations in normal cells are different than the mutations in cancer cells.

“The ‘normal’ prostate cells in men with prostate cancer appear to provide a favorable environment for prostate cancer cell development and growth.

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“In other words, the entire prostate is primed and ready to develop prostate cancer, driven by an as yet unknown biological process.

“This work has improved our knowledge of how prostate cancer develops and could one day give us clues on how to prevent or treat it.

“And it shows that it may be better to treat the entire prostate than just the areas in the prostate that have cancer,” he added. dr Hayley Luxton, Senior Research Impact Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This exciting new research shows for the first time how normal cells in the prostate can promote the growth and spread of prostate cancer.

“Researchers found that normal prostate cells in men with prostate cancer display specific genetic changes that make them act like a rich compost and provide the perfect environment for prostate cancer cells to grow and develop. These results give us important new insights into the early development of prostate cancer, which could one day give us clues on how to prevent it.”

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This research was led by the UEA in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, the Institute of Cancer Research, London, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the Universities of Oxford, St Andrews, York, Manchester, Tampere (Finland) and University College London – and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, HCA Healthcare UK Laboratories and the Earlham Institute.

It was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Dallaglio Foundation and a Prostate Cancer UK Movember Training, Leadership & Development Award.

The project was also supported by Prostate Cancer Research, Big C Cancer Charity, Bob Champion Cancer Trust, The Masonic Charitable Foundation, successor to The Grand Charity, The Alan Boswell Group, The King Family and The Hargrave Foundation.

“The Architecture of Clonal Expansions in Morphologically Normal Tissues from Cancerous and Noncancerous Prostate Tissues” will be published September 22, 2022 in the journal Molecular Oncology.


University of East Anglia

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