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New Genetic Cause Identified in Prostate Cancer Development

Armen Hareyan's picture

Master "On" Switch for Prostate Cancer

Data from a new study implicates a specific genetic change as an underlying cause of prostate cancer development, according to a report published August 1, 2007, in Nature. The finding revealed that prostate cancer really is a set of different cancers that are "turned on" by a common "master switch" gene.

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The groundbreaking work at the University of Michigan focuses on a specific type of genetic mutation known as a gene fusion, in which pieces of two adjacent chromosomes fuse together. The study, carried out in prostate cancer cell lines and animal models, received critical initial funding from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research.

"The PCF played a key role in providing funding for the animal models of the prostate cancer gene fusion described in this study," noted lead author Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, Director, Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and the S. P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan.