Gene Associated With Spread of Prostate Cancer Identified

February 1, 1997
Oncology, ONCOLOGY Vol 11 No 2, Volume 11, Issue 2

Researchers at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center have identified a gene that may control the metastatic spread of prostate cancer and tumor growth. If confirmed, the preliminary findings may eventually help doctors identify patients whose

Researchers at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center have identifieda gene that may control the metastatic spread of prostate cancer and tumorgrowth. If confirmed, the preliminary findings may eventually help doctorsidentify patients whose prostate cancer is likely to spread and facilitatemore effective treatment of the disease.

"Currently, there is no way to predict the aggressiveness of prostatecancer," says Dr. Paul B. Fisher, professor of clinical pathology,director of neuro-oncology research, and the Chernow Research Scientistin pathology and urology at Columbia University College of Physicians &Surgeons. "If additional research proves that this gene is associatedonly with aggressive prostate cancer, we will have a better understandingof how to treat patients."

Dr. Fisher and his team found the gene, known as prostate carcinomatumor antigen-1 (PCTA-1), on the surface of human prostate cancer cellsfrom patients with advanced disease but not on the surface of cells fromnormal prostates or from the glands of those with benign prostate disease.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy ofSciences, reports that PCTA-1 produces a protein known to allow cancercells to attach both to one another and to distant sites in the body. Bothprocesses are considered essential for a tumor to metastasize.

The researchers used monoclonal antibodies developed by a patent-pendingtechnique known as surface epitope/masking to identify PCTA-1. Dr. Fisherbelieves that the antibodies could rapidly be used therapeutically. Whenthe monoclonal antibodies are used to treat mice bearing human prostatecancer, they slow the growth of the cancer and disease progression, possiblyby blocking the site on the surface of cancer cells that allows them togrow.

Additional research must be done to clarify the role of PTCA-1 in prostatecancer. Experiments will begin soon in Dr. Fisher's laboratory to testthe effect of blocking PCTA-1 expression on cancer development.