A new study has revealed that high levels of fatty acids are linked with prostate cancer growth — and blocking these fatty acids may slow that growth in patients.
Forging the Link
One of the most common types of cancer that men are diagnosed with, prostate cancer typically grows rather slowly. However, even in the face of this slow growth, halting the progression of prostate cancer to more aggressive stages can be challenging.
This has prompted research into ways to identify factors in prostate tumor growth, exemplified by a new study recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Scientists discovered that fatty acids are used by prostate tissue to fuel growth. Not only that, but reducing the availability of fatty acids to these tumors reduced their severity by a significant amount.
After identifying the link between fatty acids and tumor growth, researchers further investigated the process that facilitated that growth. CD36, a specific protein known for its ability to act as a translocase for fatty acids, was found to be the specific culprit when it came to fatty acids being taken up by prostate cancer tissues.
The researchers focused their efforts on either inhibiting or ablating CD36 to see if it had an effect on the ability for prostate tumors to use fatty acids for growth. The tests were successful in reducing prostate cancer severity in both human and mouse preclinical models.
The Future of Prostate Cancer Research?
For now, it’s much too early to expect CD36 inhibitor medications or any other types of related treatments to make it into the hands of doctors any time soon as this research is still preliminary. However, with these very promising early preclinical results indicating the strong role CD36 plays in feeding prostate tumor cells the fatty acids they need to grow, it’s highly likely that there is going to be additional research into developing methods for controlling this fatty acid transfer function in the very near future.
Being able to bring a reliable tool to reduce prostate cancer tumor growth rates could spell the difference for many men in the future when it comes to survivability and quality of life. It’s practically guaranteed that further research will build on these early successes in order to find out if suppressing CD36 is a safe and reliable way to fight prostate cancer.