An important step toward a better understanding of prostate cancer has been taken by uncovering evidence that it is not one disease, as previously believed, but rather several factors which can be measured and, in the future, destroyed by targeted therapy, according to physicians at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York,
The research team, led by Mark A. Rubin, vice chair for Experimental Pathology, identified secondary mutations that cause some types of prostate cancer cells to be lethal. The team believes that their discovery will lead to better tests, sparing thousands of men from unnecessary biopsies, and leading to more specific and individualized therapy for prostate cancers that are likely to become deadly.
The current research expands on the team's work in 2005 with the University of Michigan that reported the first evidence that gene fusions--hybrid genes formed from two previously separate genes--play a widespread role in prostate cancer. At the time, it was known that gene fusions could drive the development of blood cancers, but rarely were detected in common solid cancers.
In their new work, Rubin and his colleagues report evidence that gene fusion prostate cancers are susceptible to secondary mutations. This novel observation supports the view that aggressive cancers need to accumulate multiple mutations. Using discoveries made in this study, clinicians may be better able to diagnose and target potentially deadly tumors. "In the future, these infusions, specific to certain types of prostate cancer, may help...