Using stimulated Raman scattering microscopy, the researchers showed that depletion of the 'cholesterol ester' compound significantly reduced prostate cancer cell proliferation - suppressing the growth of tumors in mice.

"The research found that depleting cholesterol ester significantly impairs prostate cancer aggressiveness," said Ji-Xin Cheng, a professor at Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

"Cholesterol ester accumulation might be used for more accurate prediction of prostate cancer aggressiveness, if validated through correlation assessment of cholesterol ester levels and clinical outcomes of patients," said Timothy Ratliff, director of Purdue University's Centre for Cancer Research.

The researchers learned that cholesterol ester accumulation results from the loss of a tumour-suppressing gene called 'PTEN' and the activation of an intracellular metabolic pathway promoting tumour growth.

Two drugs - avasimibe and sandoz 58-035 - reduced the accumulation of cholesterol ester and significantly hindered advanced prostate cancer growth in lab cell cultures. These drugs did not show toxicity to animals.

The present study highlights a novel use of these drugs to treat advanced prostate cancer, added Cheng in a paper published in the journal Cell Metabolism.


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