Welcome to Group of Urological Molecular Biology
Prostate cancer is the most common male malignancy in Norway with around 5000 new cases every year and almost 1000 deaths. More than one third of these men have advanced prostate cancer at time of diagnosis. One third of the patients radically treated will experience recurrence and some of these will progress to advanced disease.
The treatment landscape of advanced prostate cancer is rapidly evolving, with new drugs reaching the market and new indications for these agents approved. Biomarkers to guide treatment decisions are needed to improve cancer care for these patients. We have identified a serum biomarker that potentially can be used to select patients with locally advanced disease for either mono – or combination therapy (radiation and/or androgen deprivation therapy) and a tissue marker associated with response to androgen deprivation therapy.
Furthermore, contemporary cancer therapeutics are still facing two main challenges: distal spread of the disease and therapy resistance. Multi-drug resistance evolves and the incidence of neuroendocrine prostate cancer, the most aggressive variant, is increasing.
Perineural invasion (PNI) is the ability of cancer cells to invade in, around and trough nerves. PNI is a prognostic marker in various types of cancer, including prostate cancer, and represents a potential route of metastasis.
The sympathetic nerves were recently discovered as drivers of cancer development and shows that also nerves play an important role in the tumour microenvironment. The sympathetic nerves are essential for tumour initiation in the prostate and have been shown to regulate reactivation of dormant cells in the bone and metastasis in several types of cancer. Sympathetic nerves release norepinephrine that activates beta2-adrenergic receptors (ADRB2) highly expressed on prostatic cancer cells. Stimulation of ADRB2 induces neuroendocrine trans-differentiation of prostate cancer cell lines.
We have shown that ADRB2 controls development of therapy resistance and we were the first to show that use of β-blockers (BBs), β-adrenergic receptor antagonists, is associated with reduced prostate cancer mortality.
We aim to improve prostate cancer management by bringing biomarkers to the clinic that can be used for risk stratification and treatment guidance. Furthermore, we will how sympathetic signalling controls progression of prostate cancer into a lethal disease and thereby determine the role BBs in future cancer treatment.
The leader of the group is senior scientist Kristin Austlid Taskén (PhD), who also holds a position as professor at the Insitute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital.