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Why does prostate cancer spread?

  • Researcher: Dr Irene Bijnsdorp
  • Institution: VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Award Amount: £166,737 for 2 years from 1st June 2015
  • Cancer Type: Prostate Cancer
Why does prostate cancer spread?
When prostate cancer spreads it often spreads to the bones, and Dr Irene Bijnsdorp will use her Worldwide Cancer Research grant to investigate why.  "We know prostate cancer cells release small particles called exosomes" she tells us, "and inside these exosomes are small fragments of genetic material, a bit like DNA".   These fragments are called microRNAs and Dr Bijnsdorp has found that certain types of microRNA are released by prostate cancers that have spread to bones.  "microRNAs in exosome particles can be a way of cancer cells talking to the cells around them, or even to send signals over great distances around the body" she says.The theory Dr Bijnsdorp will investigate is that some types of microRNA secreted by prostate cancer cells act to 'prime' the bones to receive cancer cells when they escape the prostate.  "This is important", she explains "because it is when prostate cancer spreads that it is dangerous.  Only if we understand why and how prostate cancer spreads can we hope to block it before it happens".Dr Bijnsdorp is in the process of establishing her first research group as an independent scientist and this is one of her first external grants.  "I am very grateful that Worldwide Cancer Research considers ideas from scientists at the start of their careers as well as from established, senior investigators.  With my career I want to figure out how to stop cancers spreading, and this grant will help me start that journey" she added.
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