A drug developed to treat Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare childhood cancer, may also help prevent human prostate cancer from spreading, says a new study.
Researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center have said that if the drug continues to work well - as they found in their lab- in further laboratory and pre-clinical studies, it may be the first prostate cancer drug specifically designed to stop cancer spread, or metastasis.
"This agent does not kill prostate cancer cells, but limits their ability to spread, which could be hugely beneficial in patients," said the study's lead investigator, Aykut Uren, an associate professor at Georgetown Lombardi.
The agent, YK-4 279, was designed in the GUMC Drug Discovery Program, directed by Milton Brown, a co-author on the paper.
YK-4 279 is also being investigated for the treatment of Ewing's sarcoma and is expected to move quickly into a clinical study.
Recent research has shown that 40 to 70 percent of prostate cancer cells express novel proteins when normal genes such as ETV1 and ERG break off from a chromosome and fuse in to a new location. These new genes produce proteins that push prostate cancer cells to become more aggressive and spread.
Noting that a similar fusion gene produces Ewing's sarcoma, the researchers decided to check if their drug would work in prostate cancer cells.
They applied the agent to prostate cancer cells with chromosomal translocations that expressed either an ERG protein or an ETV1 protein and found that the YK-4 279 did inhibit functions of these proteins, which reduced their motility and invasiveness.
The finding was published online April 29 in PLoS ONE.