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Prostate cancer blog: Fused Genes Initiate Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer blog Prostate cancer main Prostate cancer news  

Oct 31, 2005

Fused Genes Initiate Prostate Cancer

Fused Genes Initiate Prostate Cancer Photo: courtesy of University of Michigan and Scott Tomlins, U-M Medical School
Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School, in collaboration with researchers at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, have discovered a recurring pattern of scrambled chromosomes and abnormal gene activity that occurs only in prostate cancer.

In a paper being published in the recent issue of Science, the research team indicates that these chromosomal rearrangements induce specific genes to merge, creating what scientists call a fused gene. U-M researchers detected the unique molecular signature of these fused genes in the majority of prostate cancer tissue samples they analyzed, but found no evidence of gene fusion in benign prostate tissue or in prostate tissue with non-cancerous changes.

"The data in our study provides tantalizing evidence that gene fusion is the causative agent - the initiating event - in prostate cancer," says Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., the S.P. Hicks Collegiate Professor of Pathology in the U-M Medical School, who directed the study. "It's what drives the aberrant over-expression of cancer-causing genes and is the first step in the progression of tissue changes leading to prostate cancer."

Because this particular gene fusion occurs only in prostate cancer, a diagnostic test to detect, in blood or urine, the fused genes or their protein products would be specific for prostate cancer and far more accurate than current screening tests, according to Chinnaiyan. And if scientists could find a way to block the gene, it could be the basis for a new, effective treatment for prostate cancer.

Mark      Return to Prostate Cancer Blog Main


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Prostate cancer
The prostate gland is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum in male. The tube that carries urine runs through the prostate. The prostate contains cells that make some of the seminal fluid. This fluid protects and nourishes the sperm. Prostate cancer usually starts in the gland cells of the prostate. This kind of cancer is known as adenocarcinoma. Prostate cancer is usually a slow disease, but sometimes it can grow fast and spread quickly to other organs.

Prostate cancer blog: Fused Genes Initiate Prostate Cancer

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