Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified an important step toward potentially shutting down the growth of prostate cancer cells, the center announced this week.
Pharmacology professor Dr. Ralf Kittler found that an enzyme called USP9X protects ERG—a protein that facilitates the transformation of normal prostate cells into cancer cells—from degradation, and subsequently found that another molecule can block USP9X and lead to the destruction of ERG.
“We now have a target that we could potentially exploit to develop a drug for treatment,” Kittler said.
Kittler’s team tested the molecule successfully in mice, but the process needs to be improved to be effective in humans. It could take years before knowing whether the molecule can be developed into a drug that is effective in humans.