Georgetown University Logo The drug treating Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare childhood cancer appears more beneficial than previously thought. Scientists from the Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) claim that the novel agent YK-4 279 tackling Ewing’s Sarcoma can also reduce prostate cancer metastasis. It was suggested that this medication can work in androgen sensitive prostate cancer cells or in cancer that has become resistant to androgen treatment.

Researchers believe that 40 to 70 percent of prostate cancer cells express novel proteins when normal genes such as ETV1 and ERG break off from a chromosome and fuse in to a new location. These new genes allegedly give rise to proteins that push prostate cancer cells for becoming more aggressive and spread. During the research, the agent was applied to prostate cancer cells with chromosomal translocations that expressed either an ERG protein or an ETV1 protein. It then appeared that YK-4 279 inhibited functions of these proteins, which reduced their motility and invasiveness.

“This agent does not kill prostate cancer cells, but limits their ability to spread, which could be hugely beneficial in patients. This study is an early proof of principle that such an approach might be feasible in the clinic, but we have a lot of work to refine and test the drug,” commented lead investigator, Aykut Üren, M.D., an associate professor at Georgetown Lombardi.

Though the male hormone androgen turns on genes involved in progression of prostate cancer, including these fusions genes, the presence or absence of androgen may not be necessary for this agent to work. In conclusion, it was affirmed that YK-4 279 can be effective for fighting cancer that has become resistant to androgen treatment. This agent probably needs to be reformulated for prostate cancer use since the fusion gene that causes the Ewing’s sarcoma is similar but not identical to ones in prostate cancer.

The research was published online on April 29 in PLoS ONE.