Prostate Cancer Drugs Might Treat Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer may benefit from antiandrogen therapy

(RxWiki News) Knowing the genetic make-up of any cancer can help guide treatment. A protein that’s seen in high levels in bladder cancer may not like being engulfed in medications that block the male hormones.

Hormone therapy - specifically anti-androgen therapy - used to treat prostate cancer may be helpful in treating bladder cancer in men.

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University of Colorado researchers discovered this after studying both animals and human tumor samples.

Bladder cancers can have high levels of the protein CD24. When this is the case, the outlook isn’t so great as compared with patients with lower levels of CD24.

Senior study author, Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, told dailyRx News, "What this means is that this is another avenue to explore as a potential treatment for bladder cancer. This will require a clinical trial, of course. But based on our data, it's worth pursuing - first with men," Dr. Theodorescu said.

Both men and women have androgens. The hormone activates masculine features. Androgens are found in women’s fat cells, ovaries and adrenal glands.

Dr. Theodorescu first saw that mice that couldn’t make CD24 had fewer bladder tumors than mice with fully functioning CD24. Researchers saw this most often and most significantly in male mice.

When the researchers looked at human tumors they found that high expression of CD24 was linked to worse patient outcomes, particularly men.

This included the cancer returning more frequently and shorter times when the disease was stable.

The team confirmed this when they knocked out androgen receptors on human bladder cancer cells and saw drops in CD24 levels, along with decreased cell duplication. When they added CD24, cell proliferation took off again.

What this means, according to the study, is that androgens are like a switch that can turn on the harmful effects of CD24.

Study authors think these findings suggest that CD24 may actually be causing and driving the aggressiveness of bladder cancer. That is, high levels of CD24 mean it’s an aggressive cancer, and CD24 drives this aggressiveness.

Anti-androgen therapies are commonly used to treat prostate cancer. These medicines include: Casodex (bicalutamide), Eulexin (flutamide), Nilandron (nilutamide).

"I think this really is the tip of the iceberg of where we're going with this. It's a very promising area, but we have to be very careful with what we do," Dr. Theodorescu told dailyRx News.

This research was published September 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Review Date: 
September 25, 2012