Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lethal type of prostate cancer identified

CANCER DIGEST – March 17, 2015 – Researchers have identified a subtype of prostate cancer with specific genetic mutations that result in recurrent cancer, and ultimately leads to death.

The researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center analyzed tumor samples from publicly available databases and found that MAP3K7-CHD1 loss was a major genetic marker of cancers that
eventually went on to be of the aggressive type, possibly accounting for 25 percent of prostate cancer-related deaths each year. The study was published in the Mar. 15, journal Cancer Research.

Led by Scott Cramer, PhD, the researchers used a stem-cell model to grow artificial prostate tumors with these gene deletions in mice. This allowed them to observe the growth of the prostates in the mice to see the effect of these genetic mutations. 

These artificial prostate glands grown in mice developed aggressive cancer similar to what was seen in the database of human cancers. They found that this genetic change created hybrid-type cells that break many of the speed controls governing replication and growth. It is these hybrid cells that act aggressively cancerous.

While there are no current treatments for these aggressive prostate cancers, Cramer says the goal now is find ways to target these aggressive cancer cells. In the meantime knowing a tumor has the mutation can help with treatment decisions.

“It might make the difference between choosing to wait and watch a prostate cancer, versus treating it more aggressively,” Cramer says. 

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