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Scientists discover distinct molecular subtype of prostate cancer
Date:5/20/2012

NEW YORK, CAMBRIDGE, Mass., AND BOSTON (May 20, 2012) -- A collaborative expedition into the deep genetics of prostate cancer has uncovered a distinct subtype of the disease, one that appears to account for up to 15 percent of all cases, say researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In the study, published online May 20 by the journal Nature Genetics, investigators describe how they discovered novel mutations in the SPOP ("S-pop") gene in numerous patient tumors, saying this alteration is thus far unique to prostate cancer and so represents a distinct molecular class that might assist in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Researchers suspect the mutations alter the way cells tag proteins for degradation, leading to an accumulation of dangerous molecules that drive the growth of cancer, perhaps from the beginning.

This finding adds to a string of discovery of other genes linked to prostate cancer over the years by this team of investigators, the totality of which is painting a comprehensive picture of how genetic alterations contribute to prostate cancer -- the most common cancer in men aside from skin cancer, accounting for the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

"These studies constitute a unique, meticulous and intensive look at prostate cancer to see the mechanisms driving this disease," says Dr. Mark A. Rubin, The Homer T. Hirst Professor of Oncology in Pathology and vice chair for experimental pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "This study, and our prior findings, tells us that prostate cancer is not just one disease. So far, we have found two main pathways for prostate cancer to develop and this opens the door to development of specialized diagnostic tools and treatments."

Mutations in SPOP constitute one major pathway, accounting for up to 15 percent of prostate cancer cases. The other is the 50 percent of prostate can
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Contact: Lauren Woods
law2014@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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