Researchers have made a discovery that could prove decisive in the fight against prostate cancer, reports Slate. This method would not aim to directly fight the disease, but to “target the proteins that regulate the circadian rhythm of a cell” which is a kind of “internal clock” of the human body, explained the Canadian Society of cancer.
Prostate cancer is mainly combated by anti-hormonal therapies in order to reduce the level of androgen hormones, the overproduction of which is a characteristic of the disease. But this technique does not work systematically, the cancerous cells of certain people resist this treatment. Thus, an international research team led by the Netherlands Cancer Institute took an interest in certain proteins that regulate the circadian rhythm.
“This track could save a decade of research”
“Prostate cancer cells no longer have a circadian rhythm. However, circadian clock proteins acquire a whole new function in tumor cells during hormonal therapies: they keep these cancer cells alive, despite treatment,” said Wilbert Zwart, one of the authors of the research, in the journal. Cancer Discovery.
During their study, the researchers noticed that “the genes that kept tumor cells alive were suddenly controlled by a protein that normally regulates the circadian clock,” added scientist Simon Linder. Now, the challenge is to find a way to block this process. “This track, which makes it possible to rehabilitate drugs, could save a decade of research”, concluded Wilbert Zwart.