Newly Identified Biomarker Linked to Metastatic Prostate Cancer Development

Researchers from Rutgers University have identified human gene markers that lead to the development of metastatic prostate cancer or cancer that spreads past the prostate.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States, and metastatic prostate cancer has a five-year survival rate of 30%.

Exploring prostate cancer cells in both humans and mice, the Rutgers investigators found a connection between 16 genes that lead to metastasis development, which can introduce treatment challenges. These gene markers may be able to predict if a patient has a high probability of developing metastasis.

The biomarkers were initially discovered via analyses of bone metastasis on mice, revealing distinct molecular profiles tied to patterns of subclonal branching from the primary tumor. Integrating those data from both mouse and human datasets with functional studies in vivo confirmed a co-activation signature among these genetic markers that was associated with prostate cancer metastasis.

“People diagnosed with prostate cancer should now be screened for the protein markers discovered to help determine their risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer, which can help inform more personalized therapy,” coauthor Antonina Mitrofanova, PhD, research member at Rutgers Cancer Institute, said in a press release. “Our results show that molecular profiling at the time of diagnosis can help inform more personalized therapy, leading to better outcomes for those with this advanced form of disease.”

The team went on further to identify a gene signature in humans with prognostic value for time to metastasis and predictive of treatment response in patients undergoing androgen receptor therapy, commonly used to treat metastatic disease. The researchers are hopeful that the biomarker will be able to decrease multiple treatment rounds for patients by identifying early who is at risk for treatment failure.

The study was published in Nature Cancer.