Newswire (Published: Monday, July 20, 2020, Received: Monday, July 20, 2020, 4:13:07 AM CDT)

Word Count: 451

By Mark Waghorn

A GENE that fuels the spread of prostate cancer has been discovered by scientists.

The protein makes tumours more aggressive, helping them migrate to other organs, according to research.

Experiments on human cells and mice found turning it off stopped the disease in its tracks, so opening the door to new treatments.

Lead author Dr Lisa Moris, of the University of Leuven, Belgium, said: “We were able to show the regulation of the AZIN1 gene is closely associated with the risk of the tumour spreading.

“What we can say is this finding applies to the patients we tested, who were followed up over a period of 10 years, as well as our mouse and in-vitro models.”

She added: “We are looking at what exactly this gene does, to see if we can find a way of regulating it in real-life cancers. Opening a way to controlling whether tumours risk spread would be a significant step towards controlling prostate cancer.”

Her team based the finding on 44 “high-risk” men with tumours likely to spread, or metastasise –19 of whose did.

A DNA analysis showed they had many more copies of the AZIN1 gene than the 25 others who were cured after treatment.

To test this the researchers changed its activity in cells grown in the lab and rodents genetically engineered to develop prostate cancer.

Reducing the activity, or expression, of the gene resulted in less spread.

Ms Moris said: “We need to do a lot more research on AZIN1 to see if the relation with metastases is generally applicable to prostate cancers.

“There are many different types and causes of prostate cancer, so this finding is still a long way from any clinical application.”

It is also believed AZIN1 plays a role in other cancers, offering hope of developing a drug for multiple forms including those of the breast, bowel and lung.

Latest figures show prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in England, overtaking breast cancer for the first time.

In 2018 there were nearly 50,000 registered cases ,around 8,000 more than in 2017. Public Health England says it is because more men are getting tested.

Celebrities such as actor Stephen Fry and broadcaster Bill Turnbull have raised awareness by speaking out about their own experiences.

The findings were presented at an European Association of Urology virtual congress. It had been scheduled to be held in Amsterdam.

In the UK, about 11,000 men die from prostate cancer every year. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men in Scotland.

One in 10 men north of the Border are likely to develop the disease.



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