Scientists drill down to genetic root of prostate tumor development

Posted: April 2, 2015 at 2:41 am

IMAGE:This infographic shows how prostate cancer spreads. view more

Credit: Cancer Research UK

Scientists have revealed the root of prostate cancers in individual men, discovering that despite huge genetic variety between tumours they also share common gene faults - insight that could offer new treatment hopes, according to research published in Nature today (Wednesday).

In a landmark paper, Cancer Research UK funded scientists alongside an international team of researchers read all of the DNA in tumour samples from 10 men with prostate cancer. This allowed them to map a 'family tree' of the changes happening at a genetic level as the disease spreads, forms new tumours, and becomes resistant to treatment.

They also revealed more detail about how prostate cancer spreads, showing that the group of cells that first spread from the prostate carry on travelling around the body, forming more secondary tumours.

The research is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) - a global project using the latest gene-sequencing technology to reveal the genetic changes driving the disease.

The ICGC Prostate Cancer UK group - funded by Cancer Research UK, the Dallaglio Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Academy of Finland and others - is examining how the disease evolves in patients to help develop approaches for personalised medicine, tailored to the genetic makeup of each person's cancer.

The team has already revealed a huge amount of genetic diversity between cancer cells taken from different sites within each man's prostate.

And this new study shows that, despite the diversity, prostate cancer cells that break free from the tumour and spread share common genetic faults unique to the individual patient.

Study author Ros Eeles, professor of oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and honorary consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We gained a much broader view of prostate cancer by studying both the original cancer and the cells that had spread to other parts of the body in these men. And we found that all of the cells that had broken free shared a common ancestor cell in the prostate.

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Scientists drill down to genetic root of prostate tumor development

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