Two proteins and bladder cancer

First, according to researchers at Lund University, Uppsala University and KTH in Sweden, aggressive forms of bladder cancer involve the protein PODXL and this could hold the key to improved treatment.

The study, involving 500 men and women aged 39 to 90 showed that patients with tumours containing the protein podocalyxin-like, PODXL, had an increased risk of a cancer recurrence and/or of dying of the disease within two years -- even in cases that were discovered early and seemingly only featured superficial tumours.

"With better knowledge of this protein, we can better determine a patient’s prognosis and see who needs more aggressive treatment immediately and who can be given a milder treatment without a risk to their life. We can see at an early stage which patients are in the risk zone for cancer recurrence," said Karolina Boman, a doctoral student at the Division of Pathology at Lund University.

"We have previously shown that the presence of this protein in the cell membrane of patients with colorectal cancer increases the risk of recurrence or of dying of the disease. Now we have seen the same thing in patients with bladder cancer. The prognosis is poor even if the protein is only present in low concentrations," said Karolina Boman.

The researchers believe that PODXL could be involved in other cancers such as pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and ovarian cancer. 

“It could also save society a lot of money, especially if in the future we could see which tumours contain the protein using a simple urine test. That is what we are going to look at now," said Karolina Boman.

Next, research carried out by a team at Plymouth University uncovered the signalling process that allows a benign, small polyp to develop into something that spreads and is invasive.

The key to this is a protein, pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI), which is present in most bladder cancers, (American Journal of Physiology -- Renal Physiology Aug. 1, 2013).

The research was led by Professor Raymond Playford and Dr. Tanya Marchbank from Plymouth University. Professor Playford said: "Although bladder cancer can be readily treated if caught early enough, once it starts to invade into deeper tissues and spread to distant sites it is a much more difficult, painful and life-affecting cancer to live with. Treatment becomes more difficult as tumours grow deeper into the bladder wall and spread, and survival rates decline.  It is estimated that just 25 per cent of those with severe invasive bladder cancer will be alive and well three years after diagnosis and treatment. By identifying the mechanism by which bladder cancer develops and spreads, we hope that in time therapies that manipulate this mechanism may be developed to improve the quality of life and survival rates of those with invasive bladder cancer."

click here to read the overview on bladder cancer.

July - Oct 2013 Cancer Watch
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