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First Look at Prostate Cancer Genome Yields Insights
Date:2/9/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Genetic sequencing of the entire prostate cancer cell genome revealed never-before-seen changes in DNA that may contribute to tumor growth, new research finds.

By mapping the full genetic blueprint of the tumor, researchers hope the information will eventually lead to the development of more targeted drugs and a better understanding of which prostate cancers are likely to spread, one of the biggest challenges for physicians and patients.

"With additional studies and as we sequence more prostate cancer genomes, we may be able to distinguish benign from more aggressive prostate cancers and prevent unnecessary surgeries and treatments," said lead study author Michael Berger, now an assistant professor of pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

In the study, researchers mapped the complete genome of prostate cancer -- that is, all genetic material, including more than 20,000 genes and other DNA material surrounding the genes, for seven patients with advanced disease. The researchers then compared the cancer genome in the tumors to the normal genome in white blood cells taken from the same patients.

The investigators found various types of genetic alterations, some of which had previously been identified and others that had never been seen before. Of particular note were structural rearrangements in which relatively large chunks of DNA from one chromosome move to another location, or swap places with other pieces of DNA. These rearrangements can create "fusion genes," prevent genes from working or let the gene operate unchecked, leading to out-of-control cell growth and cancer, the authors noted.

The sequencing revealed nearly 100 such rearrangements in each patient, said Berger.

DNA rearrangements tend to happen more as cancer progresses and the cells become more fragile and damaged, but some
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