Researchers from the University of the West of England, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Bristol may have found a way to stop the development of prostate cancer by blocking the activity of a molecule necessary for forming blood vessels that nourish cancer tumors.

Published in the journal Oncogene, the study showed that targeting a molecule known as SRPK1 could lead to halting prostate cancer progression. Angiogenesis is the process wherein tumors develop blood vessels and get nourishment to fuel their growth. As SRPK1 is needed in angiogenesis, blocking the molecule will then affect a tumor's ability to get nutrients. No nutrients, no tumor growth, no cancer.

Analyzing prostate cancer samples showed that levels of SRPK1 in the body are at their highest as the cancer advances. Working on mice, researchers were able to prove that altering how SRPK1 works can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer tumors.

SPHINX compounds are drugs made to inhibit SRPK1 activity specifically. Administering these compounds three times a week to a mouse model via injection resulted in a decrease in growth for prostate cancer tumors.

"Our results point to a novel way of treating prostate cancer patients and may have wider implications to be used in several types of cancers," said co-author Professor David Bates from the Division of Cancer and Stem Cells at the University of Nottingham.

"Although it's early days, each finding like this represents a crucial block in building up our understanding of what can slow down and stop the progression of prostate cancer. This understanding will give us the foundations needed to develop new targeted treatments for those men in desperate need," added Dr. Matthew Hobbs, Prostate Cancer UK Research Deputy Director.

Titled "Serine-arginine protein kinase-1 (SRPK1) inhibition as a potential novel targeted therapeutic strategy in prostate cancer," the study received funding support from the Richard Bright VEGF Research Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and Prostate Cancer UK.

Aside from Bates, study authors include: Sebastian Oltean, Athina Mavrou, Steven Harper, Karen Brakspear, Michael Ladomery, Maryam Hamdollah-Zadeh, David Gillatt, Gopinath Damodaran, Jon Oxley, and Roya Babaei-Jadidi.

In the United States, prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men, coming in second after lung cancer in leading causes of cancer deaths for men in country. The American Cancer Society estimates that around 233,000 cases of prostate cancer will be newly diagnosed in 2014. In the same year, around 29,480 men will die from the cancer.

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