London: Researchers have uncovered a distinct molecular subtype of prostate cancer, which appears to afflict 15 percent of patients with the disease.In their study, the investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute described how they discovered novel mutations in the SPOP (“S-pop”) gene in numerous patient tumours.The researchers revealed that this alteration is thus far unique to prostate cancer and so represents a distinct molecular class that might assist in cancer diagnosis and treatment.They suspect that the mutations change the way cells tag proteins for degradation, leading to an accumulation of dangerous molecules, which 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 researchers, the totality of which is painting a comprehensive picture of how genetic alterations contribute to prostate cancer."These studies constitute a unique, meticulous and intensive look at prostate cancer to see the mechanisms driving this disease," said 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," he said.Mutations in SPOP constitute one major pathway, resulting to almost 15 percent of prostate cancer cases."While there is still a need for increased discovery, it does appear that the overall genetic landscape of prostate cancer is taking shape, and better understanding of the biology and possible therapeutic avenues linked to these alterations has become a very high priority," said Levi Garraway, a senior associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and assistant professor at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.
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