About 90 percent of advanced prostate cancers have particular genetic mutations that can provide a target for cancer drugs. An international team of scientists say they have cataloged a comprehensive map of those mutations in metastatic prostate cancers.
Their findings are a “Rosetta Stone” to breakthrough treatments of the disease, they claim.
“We have for the first time produced a comprehensive genetic map of the mutations in prostate cancers that have spread round the body,” said Johann de Bono, professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, in a statement. “This map will guide our future treatment and trials for this group of different lethal diseases.”
The genetic codes of roughly 150 patients’ metastatic tumors were analyzed, from the bone, soft tissues, lymph nodes and livers, the researchers said.
Two-third of those tumors had mutations in a particular molecule interacting with the hormone androgen – potentially opening up immediate new hormonal treatments, they said.
But they also found that BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes – which can play a huge role in certain deadly breast cancers – were found in about 20 percent of the prostate patients. And other mutations that had been seen in other cancers were found for the first time in prostate cancer, they said. Those included the PI3K and RAF genes, which are currently targeted by other drugs, they said.
“This major new study opens up the black box of metastatic cancer, and has found inside a wealth of genetic information that I believe will change the way we think about and treat advanced disease,” said Paul Workman, chief executive and president of The Institute of Cancer Research.
A new genetic test for prostate-cancer risk was unveiled at the American Urology Association conference early this week. SNP Bio, its developer, says it analyzes 33 of the most-common genetic markers for aggressive forms of the disease – and could make sure that early detection is provided to those most prone to the disease.
The National Cancer Institute has identified several dozen genetic markers for the disease. The American Cancer Society has called for better genetic testing to target certain patients – especially to improve surveillance on those likely to develop aggressive tumors. According to the Society, the PSA screening process has dramatically decreased the rate of metastatic cancer at the time of diagnosis over the last 20 years.