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Studying Cell Signaling in the Prostate

By April 17, 2019No Comments

While prostate cancer may not be as deadly as other cancers – five-year survival rates can exceed 90%, especially if the disease is localized – incidence rates overall are increasing. For 2019 alone, The American Cancer Society predicts the United States will see roughly 175,000 new cases and 32,000 deaths associated with prostate cancer.

As the prevalence of prostate cancer continues to grow, researchers are asking fundamental, but illuminating, questions about cell biology in the prostate. For example, how might signaling in niche cells – the clusters of cells that promote stem cells – affect how cells grow in different regions of the prostate?

Now, a new article published in the journal Cell Stem Cell details the findings of a study led by Dr. Li Xin, a Professor of Urology and a Faculty Member at the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM), that could have implications for the future of prostate cancer research.

Specifically, the Dr. Xin and his research team at ISCRM were seeking answers to two key questions. What regulates the signaling that controls cell growth in the prostate? And why does the proliferation of cells seem to vary across different regions within the prostate?

“Previous studies have focused mostly on the role of Wnt signaling inside stem cells,” says Dr. Xin, referring a pathway by which proteins pass coded instructions onto cells. “We found that niche cells in the prostate not only generate Wnt ligands, but also possess Wnt signaling themselves.”