Burnham to collaborate on NCI-funded task force to find 'molecular signature' for prostate cancer

(La Jolla, CA December 13, 2005) The Burnham Institute for Medical Research will collaborate on a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional task force aimed at defining the "molecular signatures" that distinguish different stages of prostate cancer funded by the National Cancer Institute as part of its new Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures ("SPECS") Program. Led by UC Irvine, the consortium will receive $9.5 MM over the next five years.

One out of six men in America will be afflicted with prostate cancer over the course of a lifetime; one-third by age 50, and nearly 75% by age 75. According to the National Cancer Institute, about half of the 16% diagnosed for prostate cancer will develop significant symptoms. In the other half, prostate tumors develop so slowly that the disease will not progress fully in the bearer's lifetime. Current diagnostic methods for prostate cancer cannot distinguish between the rapid-growing, life-threatening and the slow-growing, indolent forms of the disease. Physicians must prescribe treatment with partial knowledge, in many cases recommending treatment that is unnecessary. The SPECS Program consortium aims to examine the various phases of prostate cancer, profiling the disease from its genetic make up, developing a molecular signature, which ultimately will enable better-informed diagnoses and treatment.

Drs. John C. Reed, Stanislaw Krajewski, and Maryla Krajewska of the Burnham will conduct tissue microarray analysis examining 4,000 prostate tissue samples for cancer "markers" or certain gene products that are indicative of the clinical behavior of prostate cancer cells.

"These comparative analyses will be compiled into a diagnostic tool that will guide a more informed prognosis for individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer," said Dr. Reed. "Working together with the SPECS team, we look forward to defining the molecular signatures that identify which prostate cancers require therapy, and

Contact: Nancy Beddingfield
Burnham Institute

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