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

00 men who die of advanced prostate cancer each year had been treated with androgen suppression therapy, it is impossible to know how many of them developed neuroendocrine tumors because patients are not usually biopsied at that stage in their disease, the researchers say. Studies to define changing biology in prostate cancer are only now starting.

"Still, there is evidence to suggest that androgen suppression results in a more aggressive cancer in a growing number of men, and now, with this study, we may have a way to treat these patients," says the study's lead investigator, Dr. Himisha Beltran, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a medical oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The Weill Cornell researchers undertook the study to see if they could find a way to target neuroendocrine tumors, which is considered an orphan disease among other types of prostate cancer. They used a next-generation sequence analysis to study the transcriptome -- the RNA messages that tumors produce -- of neuroendocrine tumors compared to adenocarcinoma prostate cancers.

A series of analyses using prostate cancer samples gathered by researchers from the U.S. and Europe concluded that the majority of neuroendocrine prostate cancers significantly overexpressed AURKA and MYCN genes, and 40 percent of these tumors also had extra copies of these genes. Surprisingly, they also found that a smaller subset of prostate adenocarcinomas also overexpressed these genes, and 5 percent had extra copies. "This may represent a high-risk population that could potentially benefit from screening and early intervention," says Dr. Beltran.

The AURKA gene produces aurora A kinase that plays an important role in cell growth, and some studies have suggested it is an oncogene, says Dr. Rubin. Overproduction of AURKA protein has been identified in colon, pancreatic, breast, liver, head and neck cancers, as well
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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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