Overactive pathway activity points to metastatic prostate cancer

September 30, 2004

Measuring the level of activity of a signaling pathway called Hedgehog may differentiate between localized and metastatic prostate cancer, according to research from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute.

Measuring the level of activity of a signaling pathway called Hedgehog may differentiate between localized and metastatic prostate cancer, according to research from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute.

In the Sept. 12 advance online edition of the journal Nature, Johns Hopkins researchers report that only three of 12 localized prostate cancers obtained at surgery had detectable activity in the Hedgehog signaling pathway. By contrast, all 15 samples of metastatic cancer samples they acquired had detectible Hedgehog pathway activity. Hedgehog pathway activity was also 10 to 100 times higher in the metastatic samples than in the localized cancer samples, the study found.

"If we can use Hedgehog activity to predict whether a tumor will metastasize, we will have a great diagnostic tool, but manipulating the Hedgehog signaling pathway may also offer a completely new way to treat metastatic prostate cancer," said David Berman, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins.