Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Brady Urological Institute, Wake Forest University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have identified an array of gene markers for hereditary prostate cancer that, along with family history for the disease, appear to raise risk to more than nine times that of men without such markers. The panel, gleaned from a study of more than 4,000 Swedes, found that these markers are common and could account for nearly half of the prostate cancer cases in this study. Results are published online in the Jan. 16 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The international research team plans to sample DNA from U.S. populations of men to determine if these genetic changes prevail outside of Sweden. And they caution that the panel of markers cannot tell how aggressive a potential cancer may be.
This information is not yet available as a genetic test for risk of prostate cancer, but efforts are under way to rapidly develop one, says William B. Isaacs, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Brady Urological Institute, who participated in the study.
While these findings need to be validated and refined, its a step in the right direction to revealing the genetic-based reasons for this cancer that we have been looking for over the past 15 years, he added.
In the study, the scientists drew blood from 2,893 prostate cancer patients and 1,781 men without the disease. White blood cells are a good source of DNA that an individual is born with as opposed to DNA in cancer cells that gets altered by the environment or other means, according to the scientists.
Using DNA from blood cells, they sifted through variations in chemicals called nucleotides that pair up to form the rungs of a DNA ladder which carries genetic instructions. These so-called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs, occur when one chemical base pair is swapped for another, altering the information in the DNA alphabet or sequence.
|Contact: Vanessa Wasta|
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions