Prostate cancer is among the commonest forms of cancer among men and is therefore the subject matter of constant ongoing research.
According to the BBC, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8241877.stm) in the UK alone, 34,000 men are diagnosed with the disease, and around 10,000 die from it.
Now researchers have found that a particular stem cell, which is a kind of master cell is responsible for causing certain kinds of prostate cancer.
Although at this time the research has been carried out on mice to yield these results this finding offers hope for new therapies or treatments for prostate cancer.
Researchers are particularly hopeful about the possibilities of developing new treatments in the kind of prostate cancer that is showing itself to be resistant to hormone treatment.
“The role of stem cells in the development of prostate cancer has been a focus of speculation for many years,” Dr. Helen Rippon of Britain’s Prostate Cancer Charity was reported as having said in a statement.
Many prostate cancers become resistant to treatment and the findings of this new research, it is thought may shed some light on why this happens.
The newly discovered stem cell or master cell called the luminal epithelial stem cell does not rely on androgens to survive and grow and it is androgens that typically control prostate growth. In light of this the finding of the research is very promising.
The researchers are also hopeful that this stem cell discovery will help in actually preventing the cancer from appearing and not just in its treatment. This research so far has been conducted in mice and whether the findings therein will carry over to human beings as well is yet to be seen.
Researcher Dr Michael Shen said, “While there does appear to be increasing evidence suggesting that normal stem cells may serve as an origin for cancer, the ‘cancer stem cell’ model remains far from proven, especially in solid tumors such as prostate.
In principle, therapies directed at putative cancer stem cells may be beneficial, but this field is still at a very early stage.”
Stem cells which can form many different types of tissue, have previously been seen to be responsible for the incidence of other forms of cancer, such as leukemia and their likely role in prostate cancer has also been debated for a long time now.