Newly discovered gene fusion may lead to improved prostate cancer diagnosis

DNAResearchers from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have discovered a new gene fusion that is highly expressed in a subset of prostate cancers. The results may lead to more accurate prostate cancer testing and new targets for potential treatments. Experts believe that gene fusions — a hybrid gene formed from two previously separated genes — may be at the root of what causes cancer cells to grow more quickly than normal cells.

The new findings, published in the August issue of the journal Neoplasia, are exciting, because unlike two previous fusions co-discovered by the same Weill Cornell Medical College laboratory group, this fusion, called NDRG1-ERG, produces a protein that may be a potential target for drug therapies.

"The prostate cancer gene fusions, and proteins they produce, are important because they serve as a cancer-specific marker," says Dr. Mark A. Rubin, the Homer T. Hirst Professor of Oncology in Pathology, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and vice chair for experimental pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Currently, PSA testing is the standard of care, yet it is not accurate enough to predict prostate cancer, because many men may have an elevated PSA level, but have benign conditions such as inflammation of the prostate."

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