In the study conducted using animal models has found that inactivating a specific protein associated with cancer development inhibits prostate tumour progression.
"This research has far-reaching implications in a wide range for human cancers," said Amy Lee, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator and the associate director for basic research and holder of the Freeman Cosmetics Chair at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
"It is a breakthrough study," she added.
Lee said that the glucose-regulated protein GRP78 has been identified as a crucial entity in the development of prostate cancer by promoting cancer cell proliferation, mediating oncogenic signalling and protecting cancer cells against cell death resulting from the stress of tumor development.
By suppressing GRP78 expression or activity, the researchers found that they could block prostate cancer activation and development resulting from the loss of PTEN, a powerful tumour suppressor gene for a number of human cancers.
"To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that inactivation of a specific molecular chaperone from the mouse prostate epithelial cells can potently block prostate cancer development and suppress the activation of AKT, which is a protein kinase that promotes cell proliferation and survival and is a major factor in many types of cancer," she said.
"With the recent advances in identifying agents that suppress GRP78 expression, anti-GRP78 therapy may open up an entirely new approach to stop human cancer," she added.
The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.