How does the enzyme SK1 help prostate cancer spread to other parts of the body?

Imperial College LondonDr Dmitry Pshezhetskiy and Dr Justin Sturge£123,6322009 - 2012

Why we funded it

These findings are encouraging because drugs that block SK1 are available and could be tested fairly easily in patients in clinical trials. This project will focus on working out how SK1 helps prostate cancer cell move and which drugs are the best ones to use to stop prostate cancer spreading to the bone.


Scientific title

Sphingosine kinase-1signalling during prostate cancer cell motility, invasion and metastasis


Research project summary

This research project will investigate a novel mechanism used by prostate cancer to spread to other parts of the body like the bone. This process is called metastasis and is the major cause of death from prostate cancer. Dr Pshezhetskiy and Dr Sturge, alongside their research team, have recently discovered a new molecular event in prostate cancer cells that could allow them to spread by the process of metastasis. These are particularly exciting results because drugs that can block this molecular event are available so could easily be tested in patients in clinical trials to see if the drugs can stop metastasis.

The molecular event that they have discovered involves a protein called SK1. Prostate cancer cells have more SK1 than normal prostate cells. The large amounts of SK1 allows cancer cells to grow faster and move faster. SK1 also helps the cancer cells to protect themselves against current treatments and so allows them to keep on growing faster and moving faster. For these reasons drugs have been produced to try and block the effects of SK1 in the body but we do not understand how SK1 works to have these effects in prostate cancer cells. In the current project, the team will focus on discovering how SK1 might help prostate cancer cell move and which drugs are the best ones to use to stop prostate cancer spreading to the bone.

Further information on the study...



Further info on the study...

Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in the male population, accounting for one third of overall cancer patients. The management of PC is complex. A diverse array of treatment options, including surgery, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, are available. Most problems arise once metastasis occurs. The cancer first spreads to the lymph glands near the prostate gland and later on moves further away to places like the bone. Bones in the hips and the upper leg are common places for the cancer to spread and once there the cancer can cause fractures. If the cancer spreads to the spine it can cause paralysis and eventually death. The aim of this project is to find a way to stop this metastasis and this might bring changes to the way we treat prostate cancer in the future.