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Uncovering the genetics of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is known to occur typically in older men. Yet some patients are younger than 50 years at the time of diagnosis. Scientists assume that these cases might be the key to understanding the biology of this disease. Early prostate cancer might be a subtype which is characterized by a relatively small number of genetic modifications. Cancer researchers believe it is likely that these include a number of what are called 'driver mutations' which extremely promote the development and growth of prostate cancer. Moreover, researchers assume that prostate cancer with hereditary background, which is not yet entirely understood, is more likely to occur in men under age 50.

In a research network funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education with 7.5 million, physicians and scientists are now planning to uncover the genetics of early prostate cancer. This is the aim of a collaborative effort involving scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and colleagues from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) and Martini-Klinik in Hamburg-Eppendorf. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics in Berlin will also participate in the project.

The project is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). This consortium globally captures characteristic genetic modifications of the most important types of cancer. By now, more than 20 countries have joined the endeavor.

After the project was officially approved in December, work will start in January to decipher the tumor cell genome of 250 prostate cancer patients aged 50 or younger and to compare it with the gene sequences from healthy cells of the same men. This will help to discover those gene mutations that cause and promote prostate cancer. With this giant project, the researc

Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstaedt
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

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