Researchers have Created a Genetic Map of Prostate Cancer

Doctor greating patientResearchers have created a map of the genetic mutations that relate to the most deadly type of prostate cancer. This has never been done before. The information that the researchers discovered might help lead to new treatments for prostate cancer. It also might make people aware of the genes that increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Johann de Bono and his team had their study published in a journal called Cell. He is a professor of experimental cancer medicine at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. He has described the findings of this study “the Rosetta stone of prostate cancer research”.

The team of researchers conducted gene sequencing on biopsies of bone, soft tissues, lymph notes, and liver tissue that came from 150 patients who had advanced, metastatic prostate cancer. When prostate cancer begins to metastasize, it often can spread to the bone in unpredictable patterns.

They found that about 20 percent of the tumor samples that came from the men in the study were found to have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations in those two genes are also linked to an increased risk of developing some types of breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Genealogists who have created their medical family tree might have knowledge about whether or not the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations run in their family. Previously, you might have been concerned about that gene mutation being passed down to female relatives. Now, there is reason to believe that those mutated genes can affect the men in your family as well, and increase their risk of prostate cancer.

The good news about this discovery is that it means new treatment might be available. Women who have BRCA-positive breast cancer are sometimes treated with PARP inhibitors. Those drugs block an enzyme that is used by cells to repair damage. The result is the cancer cells are prevented from repairing themselves. This slows the spread of the breast cancer. It might be possible to treat prostate cancer with the same PARP inhibitors.

There were other new findings. The researchers identified a number of new mutations that had not previously been associated with metastatic prostate cancer. Specifically, the researchers discovered that there is an increased risk of prostate cancer associated with the P13K and RAF gene families.

Right now, there aren’t drugs that can target those two gene families. However, the researchers note that those genes can be targeted with drugs that are currently in trial. This can give hope to those who have inherited those particular gene families.

Image by Vic on Flickr.

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