According to new research published in the journal “Cell”, advanced prostate patients are seeing a new treatment option based upon the work of researchers who have uncovered the genetic reasons for almost 90% of tumors associated with prostate cancer; 9 out of 10 late stage prostate cancer cases can be traced back to changes in that patients DNA. Some of the DNA changes are treatable with drugs currently on the market which have been developed to treat other forms of cancer. This study has led to the ability to crack the code behind prostate cancer presenting itself in a patient (hence being called the “Rosetta Stone” of prostate cancer research).
This research was led by the London-based Institute for Cancer Research, along with eight different University Clinical Trial centers around the world. Based on this research doctors can now start testing men with advanced prostate cancer for “specific” genetic mutations identified as being associated with prostate cancer. If they test positive treatment can begin immediately using existing drugs and drug combinations which will target those distinct mutations identified by this research.
Doctors at the London-based Institute for Cancer are describing this advance as ground breaking in terms of understanding the growth and spread of prostate cancer. They also refer to prostate cancer as many diseases strengthened by their respective gene mutations, instead of one unified disease as they had originally thought. While papers have not been published on this matter yet, one thing is for sure; by understanding the reasons for mutations and attacking them with specific drugs and drug combinations, we could well be heading into a new day of very personalized cancer therapy.
In the United Kingdom, where the study originated, yearly counts of prostate cancer diagnosis are almost 50,000 cases, with the cancer becoming fatal in 20% of those cases if that prostate cancer reached the “advanced” stage (when its spread into other parts of the body begins).
Doctors at the British National Health Services (NHS) Royal Marsden Trust and several Universities in the US conducted a joint study where the composition of 150 tumors in advanced prostate cancer patients who had little chance of recovery. Almost 60% of the patients presented mutations of the molecule that reacts with hormone androgen. They also concluded that men are born with genes that mark them as being susceptible to prostate cancer. Thus pre-screening regiments can be developed to identify those men prior to them having any association with the disease.
The second stage of this research will focus on developing “personalized” treatments of patients. The genetic sequencing of tumor cells from a minimum of 500 participants will be done while their treatment is tracked.