Researchers discover genetic drivers of advanced PCa progression

October 13, 2011

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington, Seattle have discovered a number of potential key drivers?recurrent genetic mistakes?common to advanced prostate cancer that may contribute to disease progression.

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington, Seattle have discovered a number of potential key drivers-recurrent genetic mistakes-common to advanced prostate cancer that may contribute to disease progression.

The study’s authors, reporting their data online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Sept. 26, 2011), also have identified several instances of genetic "hypermutation," a gross excess of single-letter DNA "spelling errors" that could cause the cancer to become resistant to therapies commonly used to slow the progression of advanced prostate cancer.

"The most interesting finding to come out of our DNA sequencing project was the discovery of three aggressive tumor types that had 10 times the number of mutations compared to the other advanced prostate cancers we studied," co-author Peter S. Nelson, MD, said. "That was very surprising and unusual. We don’t know the cause of these hypermutated tumors, but the frequency of the mutations suggests these tumors might evolve very rapidly to develop resistance to therapies."

The discovery of these genetic mutations should provide clues that illuminate why some prostate cancers are lethal, and potentially could be used to develop screening tests for early detection or drug targets to slow or halt cancer growth, Dr. Nelson added.

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