Plymouth researchers identify bladder cancer trigger
Researchers at Plymouth University say they have identified a trigger process which causes bladder cancer to spread.
The team has been working on identifying how a particular protein creates a signal which causes benign polyps [abnormal growths] to develop into something that invasively spreads.
Researchers said identifying the mechanism could lead to new therapies in the future.
About 10,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer becomes invasive when the illness grows through the muscle layer of the bladder.
When this occurs, there is a higher risk the cancer would spread to other areas and becomes more difficult to treat, researchers say.
The newly-published research by the university, in the American Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology, looks at a protein, pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor (PSTI), which is present in most bladder cancers.
Researchers, led by Prof Raymond Playford and Dr Tanya Marchbank, said they had identified the role PSTI played in the signalling process that allowed the cancer's spread.
Developing ways to interrupt the process could lead to new treatments, researchers said.
Professor Playford said: "Although bladder cancer can be readily treated if caught early enough, once it starts to invade into deeper tissues and spread to distant sites, it is a much more difficult, painful and life-affecting cancer to live with.
"By identifying the mechanism by which bladder cancer develops and spreads, we hope that in time therapies that manipulate this mechanism may be developed to improve the quality of life and survival rates of those with invasive bladder cancer."