In news that could have positive implications for more well-targeted treatments in the future, a team of research scientists has unearthed some of the specific mechanics behind how some types of prostate cancer turn aggressive.
As Rare as They are Dangerous
As one of the most common types of cancers that men are diagnosed with, prostate cancer is often highly manageable. As it tends to affect older men and, in many cases, progresses quite slowly, prostate cancer is often quite effectively treated if detected early.
Yet there are rarer cases where a patient is diagnosed with a much more aggressive form of prostate cancer that progresses much more quickly and that can easily become life-threatening. Previous research into what causes prostate cancer to become aggressive has revealed some genetic markers, but up until now there hasn’t been any data on how these genetic variants actually cause more aggressive cancer growth.
New Data, New Hope
This new research could change all of that, though. Scientists delving into two specific genes, known as CEACAM21 and PCAT19, are tied to yet another gene that was previously not understood to be related. This third gene, HOXA2, produces proteins that interact with the previous two genes to trigger aggressive tumor growth.
That’s not the only piece of the puzzle, however. All three genes are much more likely to interact in cases where patients have a small mutation in one of their chromosomes. A genomic variant in the single nucleotide polymorphism categorized by “rs11672691” is the culprit — something that was, again, already suspected without knowing the mechanism behind actual aggressive growth.
Learning not just which genetic variants are responsible for aggressive prostate cancer but how these variants function is an important goal to reach. Doing so provides scientists with pathways to target these genetic variants directly in order to disrupt their functions. This can, hopefully, lead to more targeted approaches for treating these highly aggressive tumors, which will, in turn, provide more comprehensive treatment options for patients diagnosed with the illness.
With any luck, these revelations will kickstart further research into the subject. In time, new methods for circumventing the damage these genetic differences can cause may lead to increased survival rates for aggressive prostate cancers.