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Prostate cancer stem cells: a target for new therapies.

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  • 1Department of Biology, YCR Cancer Research Unit, University of York, YO10 5YW York, UK.


Prostate cancer is now a common disease in men over 50 years of age. Medical therapies for prostate cancer are based on discoveries from the mid-twentieth century, and in the long term are rarely curative. Most treatments are directed towards an androgen receptor-expressing, highly proliferative target cell, which does indeed form the vast majority of cells in a prostate tumour. However, by invoking the existence of a cancer stem cell which, like normal epithelial stem cells in the prostate, does not express androgen receptor and is relatively quiescent, the observed resistance to most medical therapies can be explained. The phenotype of the prostate cancer stem cells is that of a basal cell and cultures derived from cancers, but not benign tissues, express a range of prostate cancer-associated RNAs. Furthermore, stem cells purified on the basis of alpha2beta1 high integrin and CD133 cell surface antigen expression, from an established culture of Gleason 4 (2+2) prostate cancer (P4E6), were able to form multiple intraprostatic tumours in nude mice when grafted orthotopically in a matrigel plug containing human prostatic stroma. The final tumours reexpressed androgen receptor and displayed a histology similar to that of a Gleason 4 cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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