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Heart disease gene linked to prostate cancer

Researchers at Johns Hopkins, Wake Forest, and The National Human Genome Research Institute have implicated mutations in a "heart disease gene" in hereditary prostate cancer. The findings, which offer new evidence that at least some cases of prostate cancer may begin with an infection and inflammatory response, will be published online September 16, 2002, in Nature Genetics.

The gene, called macrophage scavenger receptor-1 (MSR1), was identified more than 20 years ago as a factor in plaque formation in arteries, a process that contributes to coronary artery disease, or so-called hardening of the arteries. MSR1 helps immune system cells called macrophages clean up cellular debris from bacterial infections and damaged fats or lipids. Macrophage activity has been known to increase in the early stages of prostate cancer, and the Hopkins investigators suspected that some MSR1 mutations might inhibit the ability of macrophages to clean up properly after prostate infections, producing inflammatory lesions that are often markers of prostate cancer.

This is the first time that MSR1 has been linked to cancer, and it may tie infections and similar environmental exposures to cancer of the prostate in a way that we haven't thought about before, says William B. Isaacs, Ph.D., professor of urology and oncology at the Brady Urological Institute and Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

Hunting for gene mutations that increase one's risk for prostate cancer, researchers screened 159 families with hereditary prostate cancer and found seven different mutations in the MSR1 gene in 13 families or about eight percent of the hereditary prostate cancer families studied.

To compare the impact of this gene in men with non-hereditary sporadic prostate cancer, the researchers screened another 731 men, 365 with prostate cancer and 366 without. Overall, the research team found that MSR1 mutations were about seven times more common in men with prostate cancer t
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wastava@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
15-Sep-2002


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