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Prostate cancer sign found

Wednesday December 10th, 2014

A protein that affects tumour cells may provide vital new clues about prostate cancer, researchers have reported.

The protein is linked to large, fast-spreading tumours, researchers say.

A team from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, examined 7,700 samples of tumour tissue to find useful biomarkers.

They report that a greater expression of a protein called BAZ2A was linked to larger tumours and faster tumour spread. BAZ2A directly influences the epigenetic characteristics of tumour cells, they explain in the journal Nature Genetics on Monday (8 December), and is linked to the severity of prostate cancer.

They hope that this biomarker "may serve as an indicator of the likelihood that the disease may take an aggressive course, and may thus be helpful in choosing an appropriate treatment".

Researcher Professor Christoph Plass says: "We suspected that prostate cancer is driven primarily by alterations in epigenetic characteristics, that is, chemical changes in the genetic material that do not affect the sequence of DNA building blocks."

Regarding BAZ2A, co-author Professor Roland Eils explains: "The normal known function of the protein is to suppress factories that produce cellular proteins and thus affect the viability of cells. But when we turned off BAZ2A in the cell lines of metastasising prostate cancer, their growth was paradoxically slowed."

The team went on to find that higher levels of BAZ2A increased specific cancerous properties of prostate cancer cells, including their ability to spread.

"BAZ2A seems to have a direct influence on the aggressiveness of prostate cancer,” Professor Plass says. But he adds that the use of BAZ2A expression as a predictor of disease progression still needs to be clinically confirmed.

Gu, L. et al. BAZ2A (TIP5) is involved in epigenetic alterations in prostate cancer and its overexpression predicts disease recurrence. Nature Genetics 8 December 2014 doi: 10.1038/ng.3165 [abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Menís Health

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