Scientists discovered the genetic roots of prostate cancers, which could bring the hope of new treatments.
The team discovered that that despite huge genetic variety between tumours they share common gene faults. The research was published in Nature today.
The research also sheds more light on how prostate cancer spreads, forming more secondary tumours.
“The common faults we found in each man could potentially offer new targets for treatment. But we found that, once cancer cells have spread, they continue to evolve genetically, so choosing the most effective treatments will remain a key challenge,” says study author Ros Eeles, professor of oncogenetics at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.
Professor Steven Bova, based at the University of Tampere, Finland, and head of ICGC prostate cancer UK metastatic studies, said the diversity suggested multiple biopsies might be needed to identify the “trunk” of the cancer’s tree of mutations.
“We need treatments that target these core weaknesses to destroy all cancer cells in a clean sweep, rather than trimming the branches. We must also study more patients to learn how to apply these findings to develop more personalised treatments for people with the disease.”
Dr Ultan McDermott, senior author at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said that, while it takes a while before a tumour develops the ability to metastasise, once it does the patient’s prognosis changes significantly.
“We have to zoom in on this crucial junction and gather more data on the impact different therapies have on prostate cancer’s evolution and spread.”
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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