NEW YORK (May 27, 2008) -- Using a breakthrough technology, researchers led by a Weill Cornell Medical College scientist have pinpointed the hormone estrogen as a key player in about half of all prostate cancers.
Estrogen-linked signaling helps drive a discrete and aggressive form of the disease caused by a chromosomal translocation, which in turn results in the fusion of two genes.
"Fifty percent of prostate cancers harbor a common recurrent gene fusion, and we believe that this confers a more aggressive nature to these tumors," explains study senior author Dr. Mark A. Rubin, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and vice chair for experimental pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Rubin is also attending pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
"Interfering with this gene fusion -- or its downstream molecular pathways -- will be crucial in the search for drugs that fight the disease. Based on our new data, we now believe that inhibiting estrogen may be one way of doing so," he says.
The findings are published in the May 27 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Rubin conducted the study while at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and in collaboration with Dr. Todd Golub and other members of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in Cambridge, Mass. His team is now continuing this line of research at Weill Cornell.
Dr. Rubin, along with researchers at the University of Michigan, first discovered and described the common fusions between the TMPRSS2 and ETS family member genes subset of prostate cancer in the journal Science in 2005. "The discovery showed that these malignancies occur after an androgen (male hormone)-dependent gene fuses with an oncogene -- a type of gene that causes cancer," he explains.
Experts have long understood that male hormones help spur prostate cancer -- in fact, androgen-deprivation therapy is a fir
|Contact: Andrew Klein|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College