Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research have found that the partnering of two genes could be responsible for up to 600 British men developing a drug resistant and potentially deadly form of prostate cancer each year.

The international study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, also outlines the discovery of a new prostate cancer gene, ACSL3.

Lead scientist Professor Colin Cooper, from The Institute of Cancer Research's Everyman Centre, said the new study provided an important insight into how a type of prostate cancer, resistant to drug therapy, may develop.

"Most prostate cancers are dependent upon male hormones (androgens) for growth and are treated with drugs which block that hormone and prevent the cancer growing. But when the two genes (C15orf21 and ETV1) fuse together they cannot be controlled by the hormones and therefore the prostate cancer may not respond to conventional therapies.

"In future we will be able to screen men with prostate cancer to see if they are carrying this gene combination and confirm that the cancers are resistant to conventional therapies that involve withdrawal of male hormones. Such cancer would require more aggressive forms of treatment such as surgery and radiotherapy early.

"This research also highlights the need for more research into developing new drug therapies which can treat men with this hormone resistant prostate cancer type."

Professor Cooper, The Grand Charity of Freemasons' Chair of Molecular Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research , said the discovery of the new gene ACSL3 was also an important step forward in understanding how prostate cancer developed.

"More research into the new gene is needed to understand how common alterations of this gene are," he said.

Prostate cancer has overtaken lung cancer to become the most common cancer in men affecting almost 35,000 men every year in the UK. One man dies of prostate cancer in the UK every hour.

To help fund vital research into prostate cancer visit everyman-campaign or call 0800 731 9468.

The study involved the Transatlantic Prostate Group which is led by Professor Jack Cuzick and Dr Peter Scardino. The Group is a unique collaboration of prostate cancer experts from the United Kingdom and United States. The research was funded by the National Cancer Research Institute Prostate Cancer Collaborative (with support from the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health ), Cancer Research UK , National Institute of Health (SPORE) , the Grand Charity of Freemasons , The Rosetrees Trust, The Orchid Appeal and the Koch Foundation.

-- The paper is titled 'Heterogeneity and clinical significance of ETV1 translocations in human prostate cancer.' It was published online in the British Journal of Cancer on 1 July 2008 and will appear in the 15 July print edition. The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe's leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.

-- The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe's leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. For more information visit icr.ac.

-- The Everyman Centre is Europe's first and only dedicated prostate and testicular cancer research centre.

-- The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. It's one of the world's most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with 95p in every £ of total funds raised directly supporting research.

The Institute of Cancer Research
icr.ac

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