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Investigating how prostate cancer starts and spreads

  • Researcher: Professor Claudio Sette
  • Institution: Fondazione Santa Lucia
  • Award Amount: £139,050 for 3 years from January 2012
  • Cancer Type: Prostate Cancer
Investigating how prostate cancer starts and spreads
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and worldwide, around 899,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. Despite the high number of men getting this disease there is still much to be known about how it starts and spread.  Worldwide Cancer Research has therefore recently awarded a grant to Professor Sette to investigate some of the molecules involved in allowing prostate cancer to start and spread. Every cell in our body contains thousands of genes that are in control of all that happens within the cell.  Cancer is caused by changes to either the structure or activity of specific, key genes that control how the cells grow, divide and survive.  These gene changes cause the cells to multiply in a rapid and uncontrolled manner, forming a tumour. A new way that cells control the activity of their genes involving molecules called long non coding (lnc) RNAs has recently been discovered. lnc RNAs have been shown to be involved in many human diseases, including prostate cancer. Professor Sette has previously shown that a protein called Sam 68 is also involved in controlling gene activity in prostate cancer cells and is present at high levels in these cells.  Sam68 can control the activity of genes in several different ways, either directly or by effecting lnc RNAs which then control the gene’s activity.  With his new Worldwide Cancer Research grant he is aiming to understand exactly how Sam68 works with other molecules in the cell, including lnc RNAs, and what effects it has on prostate cancer cells.  A better understanding of Sam68’s role in cancer cells may help with the development of new prostate cancer therapies in the future.
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