Researchers have identified a new genetic marker that can indicate the spread of prostate cancer and how likely it will be aggressively or not, according to a new study.
Using Computer Algorithms to Identify Genetic Risk
Scientists from Rutgers University recently published a research paper in the journal Nature Communications describing how the presence of a specific gene known as NSD2 can indicate how dangerous a prostate cancer diagnosis can be. Specifically, the researchers used computer algorithms to show that patients with the NSD2 gene that have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are much more likely to have that cancer metastasize, or spread, to other tissues beyond the prostate.
The research study, which focused on tumor growth in mice, found success in stopping the spread of cancerous cells by using gene therapy to “turn off” NSD2. This approach was successful in limiting the growth of tumors in test subjects in ways that are thought to be applicable to humans, though much more research will be required before any such therapies would be permitted in clinical trials with humans. Despite this, hopes remain high that NDS2 gene therapy can lead to not just better control over prostate cancer but other related types of cancer as well.
Immediate Benefits of the New Research Findings
Current prostate cancer detection methods are accurate enough to determine a basic understanding of how aggressive a tumor may be in patients. However, there’s no conclusive way to know whether prostate cancer will spread or not just from an initial diagnosis. Yet the Rutgers researchers say simply knowing that patients that possess the NDS2 gene have a heightened chance to experience tumor metastasis can be enough to prepare for the future much more carefully than otherwise.
It’s true that, for now, specific medications to target NDS2 genes are far away. Yet this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some immediate benefits for anyone suffering from prostate cancer today. Incorporating genetic screening for NDS2 in conjunction with early detection has the potential to save lives, as knowing that a prostate tumor has a high likelihood of spreading means that doctors can take steps using existing treatment methods to mitigate these outcomes. Without the knowledge that a patient possesses the NDS2 gene, there’s no indication that these aggressive treatments would be necessary. Being able to better determine treatment options is the true immediate benefit of this new research.