Progress Report: Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, Ph.D

Investigator: Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD–George C. Reisman Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Director, Cancer Genetics Program, Associate Director, Cancer Center Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Pro-Senescence Therapy for Prostate Cancer

The human body has a number of mechanisms in place to protect against cancer growth and survival. One such mechanism is called cellular senescence, which is akin to putting a cell into a coma-like state. Interestingly, PTEN one of the most frequently altered genes in cancer, and in particular in prostate cancer, can induce cellular senescence when completely shut off. Dr. Pandolfi’s group has shown in mouse prostate cancer models that complete suppression of PTEN activity in cancer cells promotes cellular senescence which results in the inhibition of tumor initiation and progression. These findings open up a new avenue for novel cancer therapeutics that enforces the cellular senescence response by suppressing PTEN activity in cancer cells.

Terms to know from this article:

Progression

Increase in the size of a tumor or spread of cancer in the body.

Tumor

A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).