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Study narrows search for genes placing men at increased risk for prostate cancer

August 18, Phoenix, AZ--Scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the National Institutes of Health, The University of Michigan and five other research institutes world-wide announced today the findings from the largest study of the genetics of prostate cancer undertaken to date. Results have zeroed in on three different regions of the genome containing genes that may make men more vulnerable to this common cancer. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in US men. The findings appear in the August 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers are currently scouring those genome regions, culled from more than 400 cancer-prone families, to identify specifically which genes lead to increased prostate cancer susceptibility.

"This study will help us predict better who is at the highest risk for this disease," says the paper's lead author, Dr. Elizabeth Gillanders, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. "If we could identify men with susceptibility genes, we can target our surveillance to them and identify their cancers much earlier. Early-stage treatment is far more beneficial in prostate cancer," she says.

In addition, she noted, prostate cancers in men who possess susceptibility genes tend to be more aggressive--and more often fatal--than prostate cancers in men who are not genetically prone to the disease.

"This study focuses and intensifies the hunt for genes that increase a man's risk of prostate cancer," says the paper's senior author, Dr. Jeffrey M. Trent, Scientific Director of TGen in Phoenix, Arizona. "We needed this sort of massive study in order to have the power to target important genome regions."

"The difference between this paper and previous work on the genetics of prostate cancer is the number of families studied," says Dr. William B. Isaacs, of the Johns Hopkins University in
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Contact: Galen P. Perry
gperry@tgen.org
602-343-8423
The Translational Genomics Research Institute
17-Aug-2004


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