Researchers at the University of York (UY), U.K., found that telomerase, the enzyme that protects genes from becoming deleted during replication, may play a significant role in the pathology of benign prostatic hyperplasia. The study, entitled “Telomerase Activity and Telomere Length in Human Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Stem-like Cells and Their Progeny Implies the Existence of Distinct Basal and Luminal Cell Lineages,” was published in the latest edition of European Urology, and revealed it may be possible to treat BPH symptoms by inhibiting the enzymatic activity of telomerase.
The multidisciplinary team of researchers was led by senior investigator Dr. Norman J. Maitland, PhD, Professor of Biology, Director YCR Cancer Research Unit, University of York, whose research is focused on the development and cause of human prostate cancer. Dr. Maitland’s approach is based on basic science laboratory techniques to separate tumors (and the corresponding normal tissue) into their cellular components, and to study the role played by different cell types.
In this study, Dr. Maitland and his colleagues analyzed tissue samples from BPH patients who were undergoing transurethral resection of prostate (TURP), a surgical procedure in which a section of the prostate is excised. After analysis of the telomere length and biology of cell subpopulations within the tissue samples collected, the researchers discovered it may be possible to successfully treat BPH by using telomerase inhibitors.
In a UY press release Dr. Maitland explained, “Our approach of breaking diseased tissues down into their component parts has revealed an unexpected and novel approach to BPH treatment — all based on the biology underpinning the disease.”
Dr. Maitland’s colleague, Dr. Matt Hobbs, Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, added, “Forty per cent of men in their 50s, and 75 per cent of men in their 70s, experience uncomfortable urinary symptoms caused by BPH, and treatment options are limited.
“This kind of work, that aims to look in detail at the basic biological processes controlling prostate cells, is the only way that we will be able to come up with completely new ways to treat this condition. We are pleased that work funded by Prostate Cancer UK has moved our understanding of this condition forward,” Dr. Hobbs added.