The recent study published in the journals Nature Genetics and Nature Communications includes a set of papers, researchers at the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has shed light on the genetic mechanisms which promotes metastasis in the mouse model as well as implicate the typical Western high-fat diet as a key environmental factor driving metastasis.
First author Ming Chen, PhD, a research fellow in the laboratory of Pier Paolo Pandolfi, as well as director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC has said, “Although it is widely postulated that a Western diet can promote prostate cancer progression, direct evidence supporting a strong association between dietary lipids and prostate cancer has been lacking.” The senior author, Dr. Pandolfi, in a statement, has said that cancer’s progression to the metastatic stage represents a pivotal event which influences the patient’s outcomes and the therapeutic options available to the patients.
Pandolfi says their data has provided a strong genetic foundation for the mechanisms underlying metastatic progression and they have also demonstrated how environmental factors boosts these mechanisms for promoting progression from primary to advanced metastatic cancer. Pandolfi along with colleagues has noticed that another tumor suppressor gene PML tends to be present in the localized prostate tumors but was absent in about a third of the metastatic prostate tumors. In tumors which lacks both PTEN and PML tumor-suppressing genes, the cells’ fat-production machinery was running amok.
Pandolfi said, “It was as though we’d found the tumors’ lipogenic, or fat production, switch.” He added that the implication is, if there’s a switch, maybe there’s a drug with which they can block this switch and maybe they can prevent metastasis or even cure metastatic prostate cancer. A molecule named ‘fatostatin’, discovered in 2009 is being investigated for the treatment of obesity and have tested the molecule in lab mice. He said that the obesity drug blocked the lipogenesis fantastically and the tumors regressed and didn’t metastasize.