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Researchers discover Achilles' heel in lethal form of prostate cancer
Date:11/16/2011

NEW YORK -- An international team of researchers led by clinicians at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered a genetic Achilles' heel in an aggressive type of prostate cancer -- a vulnerability they say can be attacked by a targeted drug that is already in clinical trials to treat other types of cancers.

In today's issue of Cancer Discovery, the researchers report that the investigational drug had a dramatic response in animal models of neuroendocrine prostate cancer, and so provides the first hope of an effective human therapy for this lethal cancer. While fewer than 2 percent of prostate tumors in men are initially classified as neuroendocrine, many common adenocarcinoma prostate cancers change their biology during hormone therapy and morph into this aggressive subtype.

The study is the largest in-depth analysis of neuroendocrine prostate cancer yet undertaken, and the findings "are very exciting, because our bench-to-bedside approach identified a new molecular target for a subtype of prostate cancer for which a drug is now available," says the study's senior investigator, Dr. Mark A. Rubin, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The finding is especially important because many men are now being treated with new, highly potent androgen suppression therapy, which these researchers believe will significantly increase the risk of future development of neuroendocrine tumors. Androgen is the fuel that feeds adenocarcinoma prostate cancers -- the most common kind of prostate cancer -- and androgen suppression therapy effectively destroys cancer cells that depend on this hormone. But the treatment does not touch neuroendocrine cells that may have been part of the tumor mix, and those untreatable cells now have room to grow and spread, the researchers say.

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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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