Surgically Removed Prostate Gland Is Kept Alive And Functional For A Week
A new technique has been discovered that could potentially impact research of prostate cancer and how the tumor functions. The technique surgically removes a normal and cancerous prostate gland and keeps it alive and functioning in a lab for up to a week. “This discovery is significant because it could eventually result in individualized medications and prostate cancer treatments for patients,” said Dr. David Samadi, a robotic prostatectomy expert, as well as the Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Previous attempts to work on live tissues after prostate removal surgery would result in “lost tissue architecture” and poor viability, which would render the tissue useless for research or therapy development. “This is an exciting development in prostate cancer news because it can help scientists better predict how living prostate glands will respond to therapy in a controlled environment,” said Dr. Samadi, “It’s very promising for the future testing of anticancer drugs that will work best on the individual patient.”
In the past, pathologists would store tissue samples in paraffin wax, which would kill the tissue and essentially “freeze” the samples in time. Alternately, scientists would test prostate cancer cells that had been grown in nutrient-filled flasks and keep them under stringent temperature conditions in the research labs. “The problem with this method was that the cells were not connected together in a type of tissue architecture that exists in a real live prostate gland,” said Dr. Samadi, “This tissue architecture is what holds the clue to why certain therapies work and others don’t, which is why the best model is the intact, live prostate gland.”
In studying this technique, scientists at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, University of Helsinki and Stanford University worked together to get tissue samples from the operating room to the pathology lab quickly after prostate removal surgery. Scientists cut thin slices of the prostate glands from 18 prostate surgery patients at their hospitals. The slices were just thick enough to allow cells to continue to maintain their normal exchange of gases and growth. The tissues were then placed in a liquid solution to keep the proper chemical and nutritional balance for the tissue’s biological functions.
The researchers then validated and ensured the viability of the biomarkers and prostate tissues. “Tissues have a short shelf life, so experiments like these need to be conducted on fresh samples within one week, which is sometimes not enough time for some types of research,” said Dr. Samadi.
The scientists used a tissue-culture technique known to repair DNA damage caused by cancer of the prostate and other factors. This tissue-culture technique is key to understanding which DNA can repair proteins and which may or may not be activated in different parts of the prostate gland. “This knowledge could eventually help scientists develop therapies to target these DNA repair proteins and eventually help them test the response of experimental drugs on prostate cancer tissues,” said Dr. Samadi, “So it will be very interesting to see where this discovery will lead us.”Press Releases