The Little Gene that Could

Protein known to expand life shown to inhibit precursor to prostate cancer

(RxWiki News) The protein known as SIRT1 -- known for its life-spanning effects -- has been shown to inhibit prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), which often prefigures prostate cancer.

The finding from Kimmel Cancer Institute may lead to treatments that promote longevity in addition to preventing prostate cancer.

Deleting the SIRT1 gene in mice resulted the formation of PIN lesions linked to reduced autophagy (the necessary degradation of a cell's components, a process which is likely needed for tumor suppression.)

Prostate cancer malignancy has a very direct link to aging, according to Richard G. Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Kimmel Cancer Center and Chairman of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University, who added the study results, for the first time, provide a direct association between the onset of prostate cancer and the SIRT1 gene.

The findings suggest SIRT1 influences autophagy and underscores the protein's role as a tumor suppressor in the prostate.

Pestell said if the gene is inactivated, then PIN results, which suggests the longevity gene normally blocks prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men after skin cancer. About 217,730 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Review Date: 
January 17, 2011