Scientists have discovered a gene in cancerous prostate tumors that indicates when someone is at high risk of their cancer spreading.
“Currently, when a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, physicians can determine how advanced a tumor is but not whether the patients’ cancer will spread,” says Antonina Mitrofanova, an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Health Professions and a research member of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
“If we can determine whether a patient’s cancer is likely to spread at the time of diagnosis, we can start them on a targeted treatment plan as soon as possible to decrease the likelihood of their cancer spreading.”
The researchers identified the NSD2 gene using a computer algorithm developed to determine which cancer genes that spread in a mouse model are most relevant to humans. When they turned the gene off in mice tumor cells, it significantly reduced the cancer’s spread.
Mitrofanova and collaborators are researching a potential drug to target NSD2, but encourage doctors to use NSD2 screening so they can start high-risk patients on anti-metastatic treatment as soon as possible.
While the algorithm focused on prostate cancer, Mitrofanova says researchers can apply it more broadly to study other cancers.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.
The study appears in Nature Communications.
Source: Rutgers University