MSKCC unveils large-scale genomic analysis of prostate cancer


Earlier today, an interdepartmental research team from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York published the most comprehensive genomic prostate cancer database available to date.

Taylor et al. report key information about this database in Cancer Cell. Highlights of the database include the following:

  • Integrated genomic profiling of 218 prostate tumors provides a unique public resource.
  • The database was developed based on data from 187 primary prostate cancer tumors, 37 metastatic prostate cancer tumor specimens, and 12 prostate cancer cell lines and xenografts.
  • The androgen receptor coactivator NCOA2 is amplified in primary and in metastatic disease.
  • TMPRSS2-ERG-positive tumors are associated with 3p14 loss and candidates FOXP1, RYBP, and SHQ1.
  • The degree and pattern of “copy number alterations” (CNAs) in primary tumors is associated with risk of relapse.

Quoted in a media release issued by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer center, Dr. Charles Sawyers, the senior author of this report, has stated that, “One of the holy grails of prostate cancer [research] is to identify which tumors need to be aggressively treated and which don’t. Ultimately, what we have learned could lead to the creation of a genetic-based test to determine which prostate cancers might become more virulent and require aggressive treatment and which tumors may not.” Dr. Sawyers went on to say that these data clarify the roles of several known cancer pathways and provide important clues into others. “We have gained insight into the importance of androgen receptor status — and why some men respond to hormone therapy and others don’t.”

Researchers from around the world can have access to this genomic database through the cBio Cancer Genomics Pathway Portal. By making this database publicly available, Dr. Sawyers and his colleagues hope they will be able to stimulate research leading to better diagnostic tests and to future treatment options for prostate cancer patients.

3 Responses

  1. Baby steps — but no doubt important ones.

    A book I read recently summarised the issues associated with genome research in terms very similar to that famous statement of Donald Rumsfeld’s when he was Secretary of Defense and said:

    “The message is that there are known knowns — there are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns — that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don’t know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.”

    I’m not sure I’ll still be around to see the unknown unknowns dealt with.

  2. I know what you mean, Terry, you know?

  3. The human gnome has been mapped for 10 years and has basically yielded nothing. What another waste of time. Why don’t they try concentrating on a cure and worry about who does or doesn’t need to be treated later?

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