Researchers identify the molecule that could be involved in the formation of bone metastases in prostate cancer

  • Bone metastasis is a very common complication in prostate cancer and drastically reduces the probability of survival of the patient.
  • A group of researchers from IDIBELL, UB and Vall d’Hebrón Recerca have identified a molecule involved in bone metastasis associated with prostate cancer that could be useful in the design of new therapies for its treatment.
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Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men worldwide. In fact, it was the fifth leading cause of cancer death in men in 2020. In about 70% of patients with advanced prostate cancer, cells travel to the bloodstream and settle in the bones. This phenomenon is known as bone metastasis and leads to complications that seriously impair the quality of life of the patient, in addition to drastically reducing the chances of survival.

A group of researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Vall d’Hebrón Recerca have carried out a study to identify which molecules could favor bone metastasis in prostate cancer. As explained in the article published in the journal Cancers, they have observed that tumor cells with a low expression of a specific molecule, the miR-135b microRNA, have a greater capacity to establish bone metastases. In other words, one of the functions of miR-135b would be to prevent this complication in the more advanced stages of the disease. These results are possible thanks to the samples from Urology service of the Vall Heron Uniservity Hospital.

MicroRNAs are small molecules that regulate the expression of specific genes and, therefore, the functioning of the cell. “Some microRNAs can promote tumor growth and others can restrict it. Therefore, if we get to know well how they work, they could represent very valuable tools to control and treat this disease” explains Dr. Ruth Rodríguez-Barrueco and Dr. Anna Santamaria, coordinators of the study and researcher from IDIBELL and Vall d’Hebron Recerca, respectively.

Dr. Mireia Olivan, researcher at IDIBELL and UB and first author of the study, adds that “analyzing the levels of miR-135b in cases of prostate cancer could be an indicator of the prognosis of this disease, as well as being useful for the design of new treatments.”



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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