Clue to switch of bladder cancer from locally contained to invasive found

May 14, 2010

Bladder cancer often becomes aggressive and spreads in patients despite treatment, but now researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have identified a protein they believe is involved in pushing tumors to become invasive - and deadly.

"We have found that IGF-IR is a critical regulator of motility and invasion of cells, and this could offer us a novel molecular target to treat patients with this cancer in order to prevent metastasis," said the lead investigator, Andrea Morrione, Ph.D., a research associate professor of Urology at Jefferson Medical College, and director of Urology Research, Kimmel Cancer Center.

This finding is promising, they say in the June issue of , because there are about a dozen agents targeted against the protein, the insulin-like I (IGF-IR), that are now undergoing clinical testing to treat a variety of patient tumors.

"Testing presence of the protein could also serve as a novel tumor for diagnosis, and possibly prognosis of bladder tumors," he added.

Although bladder cancer is common, the molecular mechanisms that push the cancer to become invasive and to spread are still poorly understood, say the researchers. Although most bladder cancers are caught early and treated, they often come back and become aggressive, despite subsequent therapy with surgery, chemotherapy, or .

In this study, the researchers looked at the role of the protein receptor for the growth factor IGF-I, an important modulator of in bladder . They found that although activation of IGF-IR did not affect growth of bladder cancer cells, it did promote the migration and invasion of these cells. The researchers showed that IGF-IR activated other molecules in cancer-promoting pathways (Akt and MAPK) that allow cancer cells to break its bond with other cells in a tumor in order to travel to others sites in the body.

"These data seem to indicate that this protein receptor may play a more prominent role in later stages of bladder cancer, not in the initiation of the cancer," said Dr. Morrione.

Additional work is needed to validate the role of IGF-IR in pushing bladder cancer into an invasive form, but if the results continue to be promising, it might be possible to test anti IGF-IR therapies in bladder cancer and to see how effective a test for these proteins in bladder tumor biopsies might predict cancer spread, the researchers say.

Explore further: Solving cancer's secrets

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New molecular therapy candidates for pancreatic cancer

Apr 19, 2010

A research team from Japan investigated expression of insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF-IR) in pancreatic cancer cell lines. All the cell lines examined expressed IGF-IR under culture conditions without IGF-I in ...

Selenium may prevent high risk-bladder cancer

Dec 08, 2008

A study published in the December issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggests that selenium, a trace mineral found in grains, nuts and meats, may aid in the pr ...

New discovery raises doubts about current bladder treatment

Mar 25, 2009

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have found that one of the genes commonly thought to promote the growth and spread of some types of cancers is in fact beneficial in bladder cancer - a major discovery ...

Patients unaware of link between smoking and bladder cancer

Jul 08, 2008

Even though cigarette smoking accounts for up to half of all bladder cancer cases, few people are aware of the connection – including more than three-quarters of patients who have bladder cancer, according to a new study ...

Recommended for you

Solving cancer's secrets

3 hours ago

Some fathers play ball with their sons. Or take them fishing. Chuck Perou's father took his son to his pathology lab to show him how a pathologist conducts tests and runs experiments. Perou, a nature junky ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

22 hours ago

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

As the school year winds down and final exams loom, teachers may want to avoid reminding students of the bad consequences of failing a test because doing so could lead to lower scores, according to new research published ...