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FWF funds research into new treatment options for prostate cancer

FWF funds research into new treatment options for prostate cancer

(Vienna, December 19, 2023) Many patients with prostate cancer develop androgen-independent tumor growth called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). In these patients, androgen receptor (AR) activation in tumors no longer requires androgen stimulation, and treatment with androgen inhibitors becomes ineffective. Therefore, it is important to develop new additional treatment options for these patients. Against this background, the project “Thyroid hormone receptor β/AR interaction in prostate cancer” led by Brigitte Hantush from the Clinical Institute of Pathology at MedUni Vienna is funded with approximately €390,000.

Elevated amounts of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) have long been associated with a poor cancer prognosis. Based on studies in which the T3-binding protein CRYM was identified as a critical factor for T3 availability in prostate cancer cells, the T3-driven signaling pathway has now come into focus. The focus here is on thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) as an essential signaling molecule. The research group led by Lukas Keener and Brigitte Hantush (Clinical Institute of Pathology) found that in more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, TRβ is more strongly expressed, which is associated with a worse prognosis. In in vitro experiments, T3 has been found to stimulate prostate cancer cell proliferation and does so by enhancing androgen receptor (AR)-driven gene expression.

In the individual project now funded by FWF, the researchers want to investigate in detail whether TRβ controls genes essential for prostate cancer growth independently or in cooperation with AR. Different experimental approaches will be used to elucidate the extent to which the two hormone-driven signaling pathways overlap, whether there is alternating regulation, and whether the two receptors may directly interact with each other. Specific receptor inhibitors are also used for this purpose. Molecular results are correlated with analyzes of histopathological tumor samples and clinical parameters of patients to identify predictive patterns.

This project will contribute to the understanding of hormone-dependent prostate cancer growth to improve diagnostic approaches and potentially lead to the development of innovative therapeutic strategies. The financing amount is €385,434 for three years.

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