A group of Nottingham scientists have created prostate cancer cells as they move closer to working out how they spread.
A team at Nottingham Trent University has been able to generate a panel of the cells which spontaneously undergo a process thought to be involved in the spread of the disease.
The team got the cells from a prostate cancer tumour cell line and noticed the cells took on certain features which meant they could move to other tissues.
Metastasis, when cells invade somewhere else such as the bone or brain, causes the majority of prostate cancer-related deaths.
Dr David Boocock, a scientist at the John van Geest Centre cancer research, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Europe and 90 per cent of cancer-related deaths are due to disease which is resistant to therapy and has spread to other parts of the body.
“Cancer cells acquire the capacity to move from the primary tumour to other sites by activating biological processes which allow them to survive the journey and establish themselves in their new ‘home.’
“It is clear that understanding these processes is crucial if we are to reduce the number of prostate cancer-related deaths.”
The work is expected to provide vital insight into the biology and spread of aggressive prostate cancers.
It is also hoped it will help improve the management, treatment and survival of patients with therapy-resistant disease.
Director of the centre Professor Graham Pockley said: “This work provides a novel and important platform for future studies that will help us to predict prostate cancer metastasis and better understand cancer progression.
“As such, it could also be crucial in providing valuable insight into potential new therapies and approaches for the treatment and management of prostate cancer.”
The work is reported in Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports.
Nottingham Trent University is holding its annual 1in2 Day fundraising campaign to raise awareness of the John van Geest Centre’s work on Friday February 24.