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Genetic Fingerprint to Identify Prostate Cancer Prognosis

Genetic Fingerprint to Identify Prostate Cancer Prognosis

Written by Amrita Surendranath, B.Sc, M.Sc.
Medically Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on January 9, 2017 at 11:35 PM
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  • Gene signature for aggressive form of prostate cancer identified by researchers from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
  • It would aid in identifying prostate cancer patients with poor prognosis
  • The researcher team showed that BRCA-2 associated prostate cancer shows poor prognosis due to faulty DNA repair mechanism

A research team from Canada has uncovered a genetic fingerprint, which could help identify a vigorous form of prostate cancer that spreads aggressively after radiotherapy or surgery. This form of cancer is found to occur in 30% of prostate cancer patients.

This study was published in the journal Nature and would aid in developing a more personalized treatment plan for patients with prostate cancer, says Dr. Robert Bristow who is the principal investigator of the study and a scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

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Genetic Fingerprint to Identify Prostate Cancer Prognosis

The research team analyzed the cancers of 500 Canadian men who had non-inherited prostate cancer that was localized. Dr. Bristow said they used specialized DNA sequencing techniques that focused on the genes associated with prostate cancer to understand why the different types are so varied.

The genetic fingerprints that the scientists identified aided in

  • Discerning men who were well after radiotherapy or even surgery and men who had an early spread of the disease which was out of the prostate gland.
  • Provided a new identification or a benchmark about response to treatment.
  • Provided clues for better treatment for men with certain types of prostate cancer.
The scientists believe that the next step in this study would be to identify a molecular diagnostic tool which can be used in the clinic. Five-hundred more men with prostate cancer will be tested over the next 2 to 3 years and Dr. Bristow said, "It is an exciting era in prostate cancer research. We will soon be able to identify in the clinic the exact genetic state of a man's cancer and react on a patient-to-patient basis to cure more men worldwide."

The research team that conducted this study was led by Dr. Bristow and Dr. Boutros, who together head the Canadian prostate cancer genome network (CPC-Gene), the world's leading sequencing program on prostate cancer, and have worked on prior discoveries.

The research team first identified the molecular portrait of prostate cancer that was multi-focal with a new gene subgroup. This study was published in the journal Nature Genetics on May 2015. Another previous study dealt with the development of a genetic test that was designed to identify men who were at a higher risk to develop prostate cancer and for a higher propensity for recurrence following radiotherapy or surgery.

Dr. Bristow added that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer had localized disease that was potentially curable. However, 200,000 and more men die of prostate cancer every year. He further added, "The richness of information in our genetic findings today will enable us to further sort individual patients into appropriate groups of risk for spread of their disease and effect cures in men who otherwise might have been incurable."

Prostate Cancer and BRCA

Another study that was published by the same authors recently dealt with how BRCA-2 associated disease was lethal in certain cases in men when the mutation in the gene leads to fault in DNA damage repair.

The discovery of BRCA1-2 mutations was initially associated with mutations that played a vital role in the growth and progression of breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer. There have been many studies that have detailed the importance of the BRCA genes in the various forms of cancer. Some families show a higher inclination for prostate cancer which has been associated with BRCA1-2 gene germline mutation. Studies show that the presence of certain mutations in both BRCA1 and 2 mutations indicate poor prognosis of the patient with low rates of survival and indicate an aggressive pattern of the disease.

Clinical studies show that some forms of prostate cancer have poor diagnosis and are associated with hereditary factors. This is consistent with the studies on BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The association between prostate cancer and BRCA-2 is consistent within research. There are also other studies that have found that men who carry mutations in BRCA-2 have an elevated risk of developing prostate cancer while male carriers of BRCA-1 mutation are known to have a moderately higher risk of getting prostate cancer when compared with people without the mutations. The study shows that men with the mutation in the BRCA-2 gene have a 7 times higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men without the mutation.

BRCA-2 gene is a very important gene in cancer growth and development but it's significance among men has only been recently highlighted. The research team found that men with the mutation in BRCA-2 showed poor prognosis due to a faulty repair DNA repair mechanism.

The genetic fingerprints that have been identified in these research studies aid in identifying patients at higher risk of having an aggressive form of prostate cancer and will aid in tailoring treatment accordingly, paving the way for personalized care.

Source: Medindia

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