Parker Hughes Cancer Center

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New agents show potential for treatment of testicular cancer

August 10, 2000, St. Paul, MN...Studies conducted at Parker Hughes Institute involving vanadium-containing agents called "vanadocene" show potential for treating testicular cancer. The results of this work are published in this month's issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

This agent was previously found to have powerful sperm immobilizing activity, prompting scientists to conduct further research. The present study establishes that vanadocenes are cytotoxic and induce cell death of testicular cancer cells.

Testicular cancer develops in one or both testicles in men or young boys. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the year 2000 about 6,900 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. While testicular cancer is a highly treatable and usually curable form of cancer, an estimated 300 men will die of testicular cancer in this year.

Over 90% of cancers of the testicle develop in certain cells known as germ cells. Most invasive testicular germ cell cancers begin as a noninvasive form of the disease called carcinoma in situ (CIS) or intratubular germ cell neoplasia. Researchers have estimated that it takes approximately five years for CIS to progress to the invasive form of germ cell cancer. When a cancer becomes invasive, its cells have penetrated the surrounding tissues and may have spread through either the blood circulation or the lymph nodes to other parts of the body.

Vanadocenes have the ability to induce selective cytotoxicity and cell death of testicular germ cells. "We are very excited about the potential of vanadocenes to target germ cells," said Dr. Osmond D'Cruz, director, department of reproductive biology, Parker Hughes Institute, and lead author on the study. "This knowledge provides the basis for evaluation of vanadocenes as less-toxic alternatives to currently available treatments for testicular cancer."

Reference: D'Cruz OJ, Uckun FM. Vanadocene-Mediated in Vivo Male Germ Cell Apoptosis. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 166(3):186-95, 2000.

The Parker Hughes Institute, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a non-profit research organization dedicated to eradicating cancer, AIDS, and diseases of the immune system.