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New drug targets for prostate cancer

Tuesday April 17th, 2018

Landmark research into prostate cancer has revealed 80 molecular ‘weaknesses’ that could be targeted by drugs, it was announced last night.

In what is the largest, most comprehensive study ever conducted into the genes that drive the disease, researchers have discovered that about a quarter of the identified gene mutations involve the targets of existing drugs that are either licensed or in clinical trials.

Using Big Data techniques to analyse the tumour genetics of nearly 1,000 patients with prostate cancer, an international team led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK, say they have opened 60 new potential lines of attack against the disease.

Study leader Professor Ros Eeles, professor of oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Our study applied cutting-edge techniques in Big Data analysis to unlock a wealth of new information about prostate cancer and possible ways to combat the disease.

“One of the challenges we face in cancer research is the complexity of the disease and the sheer number of ways we could potentially treat it – but our study will help focus our efforts on the areas that offer most promise for patient benefit.”

Writing in Nature Genetics, the researchers describe how they obtained genetic information from the tumours of 112 men with prostate cancer and then pooled it with data from other studies, which provided analysing samples from 930 prostate cancer patients.

Combining detailed genetic analysis with the latest Big Data, they drew a map of the network of associated proteins. They then used canSAR, a comprehensive database for cancer drug discovery, finding that 80 of the proteins in the network were possible drug targets.

Of those, 11 were targeted by existing licensed drugs and seven by drugs in clinical trials. The remaining 62 were identified as potential targets.

Study co-author Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said the study had uncovered many new genes that drive the development of prostate cancer and given scientists the information they needed to help find potential new treatments.

Dr Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK, added: “By greatly enhancing our understanding of the genetics behind the disease, this research edges us closer towards that goal. If confirmed by further research, in the future this knowledge could help doctors better tailor treatments to an individual’s cancer, and hopefully see more people survive their disease.”

Nature Genetics 16 April 2017

Tags: Cancer | Men's Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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