, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 16-42
Date: 04 Sep 2014

Prostate cancer: the need for biomarkers and new therapeutic targets

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Abstract

Prostate cancer (PCa) incidence and mortality have decreased in recent years. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most prevalent cancers in men, being a disquieting cause of men’s death worldwide. Changes in many cell signaling pathways have a predominant role in the onset, development, and progression of the disease. These include prominent pathways involved in the growth, apoptosis, and angiogenesis of the normal prostate gland, such as androgen and estrogen signaling, and other growth factor signaling pathways. Understanding the foundations of PCa is leading to the discovery of key molecules that could be used to improve patient management. The ideal scenario would be to have a panel of molecules, preferably detectable in body fluids, that are specific and sensitive biomarkers for PCa. In the early stages, androgen deprivation is the gold standard therapy. However, as the cancer progresses, it eventually becomes independent of androgens, and hormonal therapy fails. For this reason, androgen-independent PCa is still a major therapeutic challenge. By disrupting specific protein interactions or manipulating the expression of some key molecules, it might be possible to regulate tumor growth and metastasis formation, avoiding the systemic side effects of current therapies. Clinical trials are already underway to assess the efficacy of molecules specially designed to target key proteins or protein interactions. In this review, we address that recent progress made towards understanding PCa development and the molecular pathways underlying this pathology. We also discuss relevant molecular markers for the management of PCa and new therapeutic challenges.

Project supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) (PTDC/QUI-BIQ/118492/2010) and Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (FEDER) (FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-020895), Portugal