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The root of prostate cancer

A lack of useful prostate cancer models has limited research and identification of new treatments for the disease. Now, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have identified prostatic basal cells as the originators of prostate cancer and have developed a mouse model based on these findings, which could help identify new treatments thatattack the root of the disease and prevent recurrence.1

Although many prostate cancer models exist, the field lacks ones that can accurately replicate key aspects of the human disease, including initiation of the cancer and its progression to metastasis.

To address these issues, Owen Witte and colleagues at UCLA set out to identify the cells of origin for the disease. Witte is professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at UCLA and professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the university's David Geffen School of Medicine. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Instituteinvestigator.

Using a method previously established by his team,2 Witte and colleagues isolated prostatic epithelial cell subtypes from healthy human tissue. The team transduced basal and luminal epithelial cells with lentiviruses expressing twooncogenes commonly upregulated during prostate cancer: protein kinase B (PKB; Akt) and ERG. The researchers found that after injecting the lentiviruses into mice, only the basal cells developed into abnormal prostate structures resembling prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN).

Transduction of the basal cells

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