2. Prostate cancer gene map could help targeted drugs
Robinson and his colleagues conducted a prospective study, sequencing the genetic codes of bone, soft tissues, lymph nodes and liver from 150 patients with metastatic prostate cancer. The scientists, based in the UK and US, used this information to create a comprehensive map of the genetic mutations within lethal prostate cancers that have spread around the body. The study revealed that almost 90% of men with advanced prostate cancer carry genetic mutations in their tumours that could be targeted by either existing or new cancer drugs. Nearly two thirds of men in the study had mutations in a molecule that interacts with the male hormone androgen which is targeted by current standard treatments. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, often know for their roles in breast cancer, were found in nearly 20% of patients. The scientists also reported new mutations, previously never detected in prostate cancer, but which do occur in other cancers. Almost 90 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer carry genetic mutations in their tumours that could be targeted by either existing or new cancer drugs. The study also reported some evidence which may strengthen the case for genetic screening for people with a family history of the disease. The scientists believe the results of this study provide evidence that clinical sequencing in advanced prostate cancer is feasible and could impact treatment decisions in significant numbers or patients. In response to the publication of this exciting and ground-breaking research Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “This could provide the information about the best routes of attack in each individual case, which is crucial if we are to reduce the number of men dying needlessly from this disease. What’s more, many of the genetic changes they have identified could potentially be targeted by existing drugs.” More information and news on the study results can be found on the Institute of Cancer Research website (here).