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Newly discovered gene fusion may lead to improved prostate cancer diagnosis
Date:7/23/2009

iously described the discovery of the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion found in 45 percent of prostate cancers. The new gene fusion, although only seen in 5 percent of prostate cancers, is the only one of this fusion class that is predicted to produce a protein.

This fusion protein may be a target for drug therapy and could help target the other more common gene fusions.

"In the future, these fusions, specific to certain types of prostate cancer, may help physicians prescribe tailored therapies for their patients by avoiding the trial and error that is often associated with cancer treatments," says Dr. Rubin, who is also the associate director of translational research and a pathologist at the Weill Cornell Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"We believe this is a first step toward providing patients with specific therapies that target individual cancer variants, and hope these findings will help doctors diagnose a patient's specific disease," explains Dr. Rubin.

Novel Gene Fusion Sheds Light on How Cancer Works

Unlike most of the gene fusions previously found in prostate cancer, the two genes, NDRG1 and ERG, likely produce a cancer-specific protein through genetic rearrangements. This fusion and protein are only found in cancer cells, and not within normal cells. Ongoing work is exploring the potential biologic implications of this discovery. However, the diagnostic implications are more immediate because these types of genetic chimera occur only in cancer.

"We think this type of gene fusion might be a common mechanism in other cancers," Dr. Rubin says. "This expands our understanding of how prostate tumor cells can hijack androgen-regulated genes by using neighboring genes to effectively alter their regulation. This may be a way tumors gain a competitive advantage over normal tissue."

Novel Technology Employed to Make Discovery

Dr. Rubin's team used s
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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