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Roswell IDs gene that may help in fight against aggressive prostate cancer

Roswell Park Cancer Institute researchers have identified a gene that influences metastasis in prostate cancer, and may help clinicians to identify aggressive prostate tumors before they progress and spread to other organs. They presented results of their research recently at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The five-year survival rate from prostate cancer has risen to 98 percent, yet aggressive prostate cancers continue to claim lives. Using an unconventional approach focused on off-target data from two genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screens, Roswell Park scientists identified disrupted genes that increased metastasis in both cell cultures and laboratory models of cancer.

Capitalizing on overlapping results from two different genetic screens, the team determined that loss of a particular gene, GPRC6A, caused prostate cancer cells to become more invasive and metastatic. The researchers also identified specific microRNAs, or noncoding RNA molecules, that normally function to turn off production of GPRC6A.

The researchers are continuing their investigation with the goal of determining whether the gene and associated microRNAs can be used to predict cancer aggressiveness, thereby identifying aggressive disease early and finding targeted treatments for this potentially deadly prostate cancer.

“This research offers a new understanding into the mechanisms that promote early prostate cancer progression from a relatively nonthreatening tumor to more aggressive and deadly metastatic growths,” said Irwin Gelman, a researcher in the Department of Cancer Genetics, is the first author of a paper on the research study. “This study may help us to identify new treatment options that can improve survival from metastatic prostate cancer.” Henry Withers, a doctoral candidate in the department of Cancer Genetics, was first author on the study report.

More than 25 teams from Roswell Park Cancer Institute were invited to present their research at the annual meeting.

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