PROSTATE cancer claims up to 12,000 lives a year in the UK. Researchers have now identified a protein called JMJD6 believed to cause the cancer to become resistant to treatment by reducing dependency on hormones. The current treatments for prostate cancer decrease the production of male hormones such as testosterone that cancer tumours depend on for growth. Studies have shown that over the course of 2–3 years, the cancer eventually grows resistance to treatment and shortens the life span of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. Typically the patient faces between 12 months and 5 years to live. The discovery of the JMJD6 protein and its function in cancer treatment resistance could be revolutionary.
The current hormone therapy treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy starves the cancer of testosterone and other male hormones, or androgens, needed by the tumour for growth and to spread. As the hormones trigger cell growth by binding to androgen receptors, the treatment therapy ensures that the receptors have fewer hormones available to bind with. Its now known that JMJD6 protein eventually causes the hormone therapy to become futile. The researchers established that within the JMJD6 protein is a ‘cavity’; it is malleable to a small compound binding which could possibly block its function in treatment resistance. Another approach shows the possibility of creating mutations within the JMJD6 protein with the aim to prevent its functionality. The elevation of this protein is also observed during treatment of other types of cancer such as ovarian, breast, and other cancer types. This novel discovery could be useful and could even facilitate the treatment of these different types of cancers in the future.
With further research, could the authors believe they could develop a drug to block this protein and are hoping to have this drug ready for clinical trials within 5 years, and, if approved, this could be available for treatment in 10 years. As this study is during the early stages of research, further studies are required before this drug development can be successful.
“This protein could be a key to preventing resistance to treatment. It may allow us to discover and develop new drugs that could prevent, delay, or even reverse resistance to current therapies and help improve the outcome for patients with advanced prostate cancer,” said Adam Sharp, from The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.