The characterization of KiSS1 and GPR54 in breast cancer and other hormonally responsive cancers

Cancers whose growth is influenced by sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, form the largest group of cancers that affect Canadian men and women. Breast cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer death among women in North America, and prostate cancer rates third for men. While there have been advances in treatment, many of these patients will succumb to their disease when tumors metastasize (spread to other organs or tissues in the body). The KiSS1 and GPR54 genes have demonstrated the ability to prevent metastases from developing. While the importance of KiSS1 and GPR54 are being studied in other cancers, little has been done to investigate the involvement of these two genes in clinical breast and ovarian cancers, and no studies have been conducted in prostate cancer. Building on her MSFHR-funded Master’s research, Leah Prentice is investigating whether KiSS1 and GPR54 have dual roles as both tumor promoters, via their involvement in hormonal processes, and also as suppressors of metastasis. By understanding the anti-metastatic mechanism of these two genes, Prentice hopes to contribute to the development of more targeted therapies and diagnostic tests that would allow for earlier detection of these potentially life-threatening cancers.