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Thomas Flaig, MD


GREM1 Protein and Bladder Cancer: Biomarker for Targeted Therapy?

By: Amanda E. Ruffino, BA
Posted: Monday, October 30, 2023

Fan Cheng, MD, PhD, of Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, China, and colleagues investigated the role of the protein Gremlin-1 (GREM1) in bladder cancer and its potential as a therapeutic target. GREM1 was found to be highly expressed in bladder cancer tissues, and its elevated levels were associated with poor prognosis. Knockdown of GREM1 effectively inhibited bladder cancer cell proliferation, apoptosis resistance, migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) capabilities. These findings, published in the World Journal of Surgical Oncology, suggest GREM1 may serve in the future as a valuable biomarker for targeted therapy for bladder cancer.

The relationship between bladder cancer and the protein GREM1 has remained unclear. To address this gap in knowledge, the investigators collected bladder cancer tissue samples and analyzed GREM1 expression through Western blot analysis and immunofluorescence staining. Additionally, they used data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database to assess the association between GREM1 expression and clinicopathologic features and prognosis in patients with bladder cancer.

The study’s results revealed that GREM1 expression was significantly elevated in bladder cancer tissues, and this heightened expression seemed to correlate with poor prognosis. Furthermore, stable knockdown of GREM1 led to a reduction in bladder cancer cell proliferation, increased sensitivity to apoptosis, decreased migratory and invasive capabilities, and inhibition of the EMT process.

Of note, the study uncovered a crucial mechanism by which GREM1 drives bladder cancer progression: it activates the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. This finding suggests that targeting GREM1 or this pathway may be a promising strategy for targeted bladder cancer therapy. These findings contribute to our understanding of bladder cancer pathogenesis, the authors noted, and offer a potential avenue for developing more effective treatments for this patient population.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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