Abnormally high levels of iron in the body is associated with prostate cancer, and researchers from the Cancer Research Institute in Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore have found a mechanism that explains it. They found iron storage gene, FTH1 and its pseudogenes in regulating the levels of iron in the cells and slowing the growth of prostate cancer. The new findings could pave the way for future developments in the field of prostate cancer diagnosis and therapy.
Prostate cancer - the second leading cause of death from cancer in men in the world. The survival rate for prostate cancer is high, if it is diagnosed early, but it decreases significantly in advanced stages. Currently there are no drugs available for the treatment of aggressive or late-stage prostate cancer, and the accuracy of existing screening methods remains relatively low at a level of 20 to 30%. The incidence of prostate cancer is increasing rapidly, accounting for 9.6% of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer in 2017. There is a need to better understand the biological mechanisms leading to the disease, to create a more reliable diagnostics and effective treatments against it.
In a study published in the scientific journal "Studies of nucleic acids", earlier this year, researchers from CSI Singapore focused on iron storage gene FTH1, noting the link between iron levels in the cells and the development of prostate cancer. It was found that FTH1 function strongly depends on its pseudogenes set of genes derived from their parental genes that were previously considered and were classified as non-functional "genomic trash". FTH1 and pseudogenes are suppressed in prostate cancer, and FTH1 and pseudogenes are required to reduce the iron levels in the cells and slow the growth of prostate cancer.
Further experiments showed that FTH1 and pseudogenes are linked by a common pool of miRNAs that are highly expressed in prostate cancer, and these miRNAs inhibit the regulation of iron levels of genes. Thus, the isolation and manipulation of microRNAs pool can facilitate inhibition restores regulatory functions FTH1 iron and its pseudogenes and their tumor suppressive effects.
"The study is an interesting discovery in the form of a multi-component suppressing tumor gene FTH1: pseudogenes network that can be used for future diagnosis and drug development. Highly expressed miRNAs bind FTH1 and pseudogenes are attractive biomarkers and therapeutic targets for prostate cancer. Orientation or restore proper storage of iron may be a potential therapeutic tool for development ", - said the assistant professor Yvonne Tay, principal investigator in the CSI Singapore, who led the study.
High iron levels in cells associated with various cancers, in addition to prostate cancer. Thus, the research team will continue to study and definition of the regulatory network not only prostate cancer but other cancers to better identify potential biomarkers and drug targets for more effective treatment of cancer.