A previously established prostate cancer biomarker may also represent a drug target in the disease suggests new research presented this week at the 2016 National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference (6–9 November, Liverpool, UK).
The marker, a molecule termed NAALADL2, is associated with significantly higher expression levels on the surface of prostate cancer cells, compared with healthy cells. Previous research has demonstrated that tumors that express high levels of NAALADL2 are more than twice as likely to recur following surgery.
In this newly presented study, researchers from UCL (London, UK) attached saporin to an anti-NAALADL2 antibody and investigated its impact on prostate cancer cells in the lab. Their studies indicated that the overexpression of this molecule could potentially be harnessed to target toxins into these malignant cells.
“Using antibodies mounted with a toxic payload, we can exploit the fact that aggressive prostate cancer cells have more NAALADL2. The next step is to further develop this for use in patients, which we hope can be done in a relatively short timeframe,” reported Hayley Luxton, lead researcher from UCL.
“When it comes to aggressiveness, prostate cancer can either be slow-growing or much faster to grow and spread. And there is an urgent need to find better treatments for the more aggressive version of the disease. Interestingly, this study shows that the very marker that indicates a prostate tumor may be more aggressive, could also be the key to its downfall,” commented Chris Parker, Chair of the National Cancer Research Institute’s Prostate Cancer Clinical Studies Group