Healthcare: On the Agenda - Decorin may help prostate sufferers

In a nutshell

A gene has been discovered that may slow cancer growth and could lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

About the study

A team from the Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health, at the University of Edinburgh, studied genes that control the formation of the prostate gland. The team pinpointed a gene - Decorin - that is active when the prostate is being formed in the womb. They compared its behaviour with prostate cancer development and found its presence to be reduced in tumours compared with healthy cells. They then deduced it may have a role in slowing cancer growth. Researchers say measurement of Decorin levels could become a 'reliable diagnostic test' for prostate cancer and help to determine how aggressive the disease is. The team's findings have been published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

PR strategy

The university team was funded by the Medical Research Council and Prostate Cancer UK. Both sent out the release to media contacts, including Scottish media and science specialists, while lead author Dr Axel Thomson was put up for interview. Prostate Cancer UK also put the release on Facebook and its website.

Media coverage

The news was picked up by PA, Sky News and STV, and was also covered in The Sun, The Scotsman, The Herald and the Daily Record. It also appeared online on The Guardian, Daily Express and BBC sites.

40k - Number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK*

11% - Percentage of men who will get prostate cancer in UK*

*Source: Medical Research Council.

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