Scientists identify new prostate cancer tumour type

May 31, 2022
Scientists identify new prostate cancer tumour type

Scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine have identified two new subtypes of prostate cancer. The tumour subtypes can be resistant to hormone therapy, which reduces the levels of androgens (male hormones) like testosterone that the cancer cells depend on to grow – knowing the exact subtype is nevertheless important for successful cancer treatment.

Of the four subtypes of prostate cancer, the two latest to be identified are named SCL and WNT, after the overactive signaling pathways characteristic of the respective tumours. These subtypes were determined by analysing chromatin profiles in tumour samples, as he genetic content of chromatin can lead to the development of different types of cancer.

The scientists found that the SCL type accounted for around 22-30% of cases of prostate cancer, in a patient sample of over 360 individuals; the WNT type was much rarer in the same patient sample, at just 5-7%. In SCL prostate cancers, for example, a series of proteins become too active, which changes chromatin accessibility and drives tumour growth.

Depending on which proteins are involved, existing molecules that are known to affect them could then slow the growth of SCL cancer cells, indicating new treatments could be possible.

“Once you can identify which type of tumour patients have, that’s very powerful information,” said Dr. Etka Khurana, associate professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine. “For patients that fall into this SCL group, we have found very promising drug targets, which future studies will work to validate.”

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Scientists identify new prostate cancer tumour type

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