Researchers from Rutgers University have found a particular gene present in prostate cancer tumors that shows when patients are at a high risk of having their cancer spread. By extension, this find suggests that targeting treatment interventions at this particular gene can aid in prostate cancer patients living longer.
This NSD2 gene was identified using a computer algorithm that was built to find the cancer genes present and spreading in mice that were also closely related to those in humans. The researchers were able to successfully disable the gene in question in mice tumor cells and this reduced the spread of the cancer significantly.
The research was conducted on the following basis:
- Prostate cancer is the second most prevalent cancer amongst American men. It is also gives the second highest numbers for cancer-related deaths. Its occurrence thus makes it worthwhile of study as it affects a large number of people. Prostate cancer is also known for its tendency to spread quietly over time thus increasing its likelihood of causing damage.
- Once a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer doctors are able to tell how advanced a tumor is. They, however, cannot tell whether the cancer will spread. This prevents doctors from appropriately treating the cancer. With this information, physicians can start patients on a targeted treatment plan to reduce the chance of it spreading further as soon as it is diagnosed.
- From the findings of this study, the researchers are further conducting research on a drug specifically meant to target the NSD2 gene. Doctors can now begin screening for NSD2 and where the results are positive, they can put those high-risk patients on treatment that combats the spread of the cancer.
The algorithm used in the study was focused on prostate cancer but this study shows that similar studies can be applied to other cancers in order to get useful findings relevant to humans.