A potential new treatment for a deadly form of prostate cancer

Blocking a kinase known as CDK7 sets off a chain reaction that results in the death of prostate cancer cells that have spread and are resistant to standard therapies, according to a new study from researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center. The team identified the role of CDK7 as the on/off switch that controls Med-1, a process that works in partnership with the androgen receptor to drive prostate cancer growth. Researchers show turning the switch off eventually leads to the death of cancer cells in mice. Cancer Discovery published the findings.

3-d illustration of cancer cells

Androgen deprivation therapy is a standard approach to treating prostate cancer, but over the course of treatment, a majority of patients will eventually become resistant to the therapy, allowing the cancer to grow and spread. This is referred to as metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). There are two drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for these cases, but patients see little or no long-term survival benefit from these therapies.

“We know that AR [the androgen receptor] does not work alone; that it needs Med-1 as its partner,” says the study’s senior author Irfan A. Asangani, an assistant professor of cancer biology in the Perelman School of Medicine. “Our study found a way to turn off Med-1, leaving AR without its co-pilot, which means the cancer cannot grow and the cells eventually die.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.