July 30 (UPI) -- Researchers may have uncovered a mechanism that controls the spread of prostate cancer, a new study shows.
A non-coding RNA known as HULLK gives the blueprint to proteins and controls cells that cause prostate cancer to grow, according to research published this week in Molecular Cancer. Now researchers want to use this discovery to locate and halt the growth of the deadly disease.
"We have uncovered a novel non-coding RNA that may drive prostate cancer," Dan Gioeli, a researcher at the University of Virginia and study senior author, said in a news release. "This discovery could lead to new biomarkers of prostate cancer and more effective therapies for advanced prostate cancer."
The researchers observed that patients with advanced prostate cancer had more HULLK in samples of their tumors. So they figured lowering the amount of RNA in cultured prostate cancer cells might slow tumor growth.
Doctors traditionally treat prostate cancer with a therapy that lowers the body's level of androgen. But this therapy produces unwanted side effects.
With the new finding, the researchers hope HULLK can be used to determine better treatment for prostate cancer. They also hope to develop blood tests to detect it and evaluate how aggressive a person's prostate cancer is before treatment begins.
Prostate cancer represents nearly 10 percent of all cancer cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There is still a lot of research to do on how HULLK functions in order realize the potential of this discovery in the clinic," Gioeli said. "We are excited to do that research and translate our basic science discovery into the clinic."