In a study to decipher clues about how prostate cancer cells grow and become more aggressive, Johns Hopkins urologists have found that reduction of a specific protein is correlated with the aggressiveness of prostate cancer, acting as a red flag to indicate an increased risk of cancer recurrence.
Their findings are reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Aug. 27, 2012.
The team focused on a gene called SPARCL1, which appears to be critically important for cell migration during prostate development in the embryo and apparently becomes active again during cancer progression. Normally, both benign and malignant prostate cancer cells express high levels of SPARCL1, and reduce these levels when they want to migrate. The team correlated this reduction or “down regulation” of SPARCL1 with aggressiveness of prostate cancer.