Los Angeles, Jul 13 (IANS): Scientists have found that nerves play a crucial role in both the development and spread of prostate tumours - the second most common form of cancer in men, says a study.
The findings by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, using both a mouse model and human prostate tissue, may lead to new ways to predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer and to novel therapies for preventing and treating the disease, says the study published online in the July 12 edition of 'Science'.
Prostate cancer is second to skin cancer as the most common cancer in men.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 238,590 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2013, and 29,720 men will die from the disease, reports Science Daily.
The study was led by stem-cell expert Paul Frenette, professor of medicine and of cell biology and director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Einstein.
Nerves are commonly found around tumours, but their role in the growth and progression of cancer has not been clear.
"Since there might be similarities between the haematopoeitic stem cell niche and the stem cell niches found in cancer, we thought that sympathetic nerves might also have a role in tumour development," said Frenette.
"It turns out that in prostate cancer, not only are sympathetic nerves involved, but so too are parasympathetic nerves."