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New potential targets for prostate cancer therapy

Dr Rajdeep Das,  FFCMH PhD Scholarship student in the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, has received a Dean’s letter of commendation for his thesis on microRNAs (small fragments of genetic material that regulate how genes are expressed in cells) and prostate cancer. Raj has recently taken up a new position as a postdoctoral scientist at the University of California, San Francisco.

This month sees Raj’s work published in one of the leading international cancer journals “Cancer Research”.  Raj, senior author and primary supervisor, Dr Luke Selth, and his national and international colleagues have identified a miRNA, miR-194, that promotes the metastasis, or spread, of prostate cancer. He showed that miR-194 causes aggressive cancer by inhibiting the activity of a metastasis-suppressing factor called SOCS2. Dr Selth says that “We have identified a completely new pathway that regulates prostate cancer metastasis. Importantly, there are multiple points in this pathway that could potentially be targeted to improve prostate cancer outcomes – but there is still a lot of work to do before this research could be translated into new drugs.”

RajCancerRes paperMSKCCThe graph to the left shows the percent of men treated for prostate cancer at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (USA) who remain disease free over time. The grey line represents men with high levels of SOCS2 expression, who have significantly less likelihood of relapse when compared to men with low levels of SOCS2 expression (black line).

This work was supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the US Department of Defense and Movember/Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

A press release will be made available from the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories shortly.

Das R, Gregory PA, Fernandes RC, Denis I, Wang Q, Townley SL, Zhao SG, Hanson A, Pickering MA, Armstrong HK, Lokman NA, Ebrahimie E, Davicioni E, Jenkins RB, Karnes RJ, Ross AE, Den RB, Klein EA, Chi KN, Ramshaw HS, Williams ED, Zoubedi A, Goodall GJ, Feng FY, Butler LM, Tilley WD, Selth LA.  MicroRNA-194 promotes prostate cancer metastasis by inhibiting SOCS2. Cancer Res. 2016 Dec 23. pii: canres.2529.2016. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-2529. [Epub ahead of print]

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