Genetic variations help target location of prostate cancer genes

November 2, 2006

The National Cancer Institute has released new data from the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility study on prostate cancer that may help identify genetic factors that influence the disease and will be integral to the discovery and development of new targeted therapies.

The National Cancer Institute has released new data from the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility study on prostate cancer that may help identify genetic factors that influence the disease and will be integral to the discovery and development of new targeted therapies.

“Knowing which genes are most likely to lead to cancer will greatly enhance our ability to diagnose the disease at its earliest stages, as well as develop therapies to treat cancer when it is most vulnerable to attack,” said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, MD.

By finding genetic variations that differ in frequency between patient and control groups, researchers can identify the location of multiple inherited genes that increase or decrease the risk of prostate cancer. The genetic samples of prostate cancer came from more than 1,100 men with the disease and 1,100 men without it. The samples include more than 680 million individual genotypes including 310,000 genetic variants.

In related news, researchers from 12 institutions, including the National Human Genome Research Institute, announced the results of the first genome-wide linkage study of prostate cancer in African-Americans. Using genetic markers, researchers identified several regions of the human genome that likely contain genes that, when altered, increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

The African-American Hereditary Prostate Cancer study network recruited 77 African-American extended families, which encompassed a total of 418 men with prostate cancer, to participate in the study. All of the families had at least four men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“Since this disease is so important in this population, this is a critical study in terms of our ability to understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for the disproportionate risk observed in African-American men for both diagnosis and mortality from prostate cancer,” said William B. Isaacs, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, who is head of the International Consortium for Prostate Cancer Genetics. “The mapping information provided by these researchers will provide essential information necessary for the ultimate identification of the genes involved, and hopefully for the mechanistically based efforts to address this disparity.”

The findings are scheduled for publication in The Prostate.