New Prostate Cancer Treatment Attacks Stem Cells

A possible new treatment for advanced prostate cancer may come in the form of an approach that attacks stem cell-like cells. The new therapy is under investigation by researchers at Lund University and Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden.

Even though prostate tumors are believed to contain only about 0.1 percent cancer stem cells, Anders Bjartell, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the Faculty of Medicine’s division for Urological Cancer Research, Skane University Hospital, noted that “if you are not successful in eradicating that tumour cell population, there is a risk of subsequent uncontrolled growth of the tumour.”

Cancer stem cells often do not respond to chemotherapy or hormonal therapy, so a different approach to eliminating these cells is needed. Thus far, the research team has found that a protein called STAT3 is active in the stem cell-like cells and that a natural compound called galiellalactone has an effect on STAT3 and has inhibitory effects on prostate cancer growth.

For now, researchers are developing and exploring substances that will inhibit STAT3, using galiellalactone as a model. They noted that”galiellalactone is an interesting compound for the development of future prostate cancer drugs.” In addition, they hope their efforts will bring about new therapies that attack the stem cell-like cancer cells in men who have prostate cancer and prevent growth and spread of the disease.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.

Reference

Hellsten R et al. Galiellalactone inhibits stem cell-like ALDH-positive prostate cancer cells. PLoS ONE 2011; 6(7): e22118