Tailoring treatment for prostate cancer

Hutchinson Center researchers and Duke University colleagues discover a genomic signature that may allow doctors to individualize therapy for men with metastatic prostate cancer

Hutchinson Center researchers Drs. Elahe Mostaghel and Peter Nelson and colleagues at Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy authored a paper announcing the discovery of a genomic signature that may ultimately allow doctors to individualize therapy for men with aggressive prostate cancer that has metastasized to other organs.

By examining prostate cancer cell lines and human tumors, researchers were able to discover a gene expression “signature” that identifies cancer cells with high levels of androgen receptor (AR) activity, even after the cancer may have become resistant to traditional hormone therapy. The genomic signature may allow doctors to tailor existing and emerging drug treatments to better suit each patient being treated.

The study’s pre-clinical findings are expected to lead to a multi-institutional trial, opening in late 2008 and supported by Bristol Meyers Squibb that will test the impact of using this genomic signature to guide therapy in men with metastatic prostate cancer.

The study was published March 16, 2009, in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. It was funded by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Lead author is Dr. Phillip Febbo, a medical oncologist at Duke.

The researchers also noticed that activity of a gene known as Src, which is seen and targeted in breast and other cancers, seems to correlate with low or absent AR activity in metastatic prostate cancer. The activity of Src may provide a novel target for men who have lower AR activity.


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