Puppet-master genes that control the growth and spread of prostate cancer has been discovered by scientists. This discovery that offers clues to new target treatments to help slow down, or even stop, the progress of the disease.
Drugs that hone in on these genes could slow down or even stop the march of the disease, the most common cancer among men, the research said.
Scientists from the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh focused on so-called stromal cells, which are not cancerous but play a vital role in controlling the spread of the disease.
Comparison of stromal cells taken from healthy, diseased and embryonic prostates flagged up 15 genes believed to be key to the growth of cancerous cells.
Researcher Dr Axel Thomson said: "Stromal cells are in effect the "puppet masters" of cancer growth and, although not cancerous themselves, they can have a big effect on how tumours grow. It is indirect but it couldn't be more important.
Owen Sharp of The Prostate Cancer Charity said: "The researchers have found it is actually the normal cells of the prostate which are driving and regulating the growth of prostate cancer."
The study has been published in the journal Oncogene.