Researchers from University of California – San Francisco identified a new subtype of metastatic prostate cancer that is resistant to standard treatments.
A new study led by researchers at UC San Francisco on prostate cancer in 202 men, found that around 17 percent of these cancers belong to a deadlier subtype of metastatic prostate cancer. This subtype is called treatment-emergent small cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer (t-SCNC). Specific genetic mutations and patterns of gene expression found in t-SCNC were distinct from the more common type of prostate cancer known as adenocarcinoma. These patterns were high in activity of specific transcription factors and triggered production of other proteins that drive cancer growth. However, a couple of these over-activated transcription factors are targets of drugs already in clinical trials. The researchers also observed that previously found mutations in adenocarcinomas were hardly evident in t-SCNC. The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on July 9, 2018.
Treatments targeting specific mutations in prostate cancer rely on hormonal treatment and chemotherapy. However, these procedures are not yet available in standard practice. The growth in target based treatments available for cancer is expected to become increasingly valuable In treating various sub-type cancers. According to the American Cancer Society around 29,430 men are expected to die due to prostate cancer in 2018. Furthermore, around one in 10 prostate cancers metastasized at the time of initial diagnosis, making it more difficult to treat successfully. The additional mutations and alterations in gene expression patterns in such cancers are responsible for treatment-resistant tumor cells. These cells generate clones through cell division to promote further growth of tumor. The pattern of gene mutations suggest that t-SCNC arises from a pre-existing adenocarcinoma. The study enrolled those patients whose tumors were resistant to conventional hormonal treatment of androgen deprivation therapy.