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Gene fusion discovery may lead to improved prostate cancer test
Date:4/9/2009

ch and a pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Rubin's team is already working with a company to develop a urine test for prostate cancer using a chromosome-based gene fusion called TMPRSS2-ERG that the team discovered previously while working with members of Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan's research group at the University of Michigan. Dr. Rubin anticipates that the newly discovered SLC45A3-ELK4 gene fusion may be added to that urine test in the future to increase its accuracy and also to potentially help determine the level of response to certain non-surgical systemic treatments. The TMPRSS2-ERG urine test is being evaluated in multiple early clinical trials in the United States and Europe.

Novel Gene Fusion Sheds Light on How Cancer Works

Unlike the gene fusions previously found in cancers, which arise when two chromosomes join together in an abnormal way, the new fusion occurs when the genes are being copied into RNA. The two genes, SLC45A3 and ELK4, reside next to one another on the chromosome in normal and prostate cancer cells. However, when the genes are copied into RNA in the prostate cancer cells, they frequently generate a single RNA message that fuses information from both genes. 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 at significantly higher levels in abnormal tumor cells.

"We think this type of gene fusion might be a common mechanism in cancer," Dr. Rubin says. "This expands our understanding of how tumor cells may hijack androgen-regulated genes with neighboring genes and effectively alter its regulation. This may be a way tumors gain a competitive advantage."


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Contact: John Rodgers
jdr2001@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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