Researchers Find a New Potential Biomarker for Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Researchers Find a New Potential Biomarker for Aggressive Prostate Cancer
Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Foggia in Italy recently revealed that an osteogenic factor called Runx2 is linked to aggressive prostate cancer development. The study is entitled “Role of Runx2 phosphorylation in prostate cancer and association with metastatic disease” and was published in the journal Oncogene. Prostate cancer is a curable cancer and the second most common cancer in men, with almost one million new cases diagnosed every year worldwide. In the United States, it is estimated that 221,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2015, resulting in approximately 27,500 deaths. Prostate cancer can range from slow-growing tumors, which are more common, to rapidly progressing aggressive tumors. An early diagnosis of the disease is crucial for improved disease outcomes and survival. “(In the context of prostate cancer) there's a big interest in trying to find biomarkers to discriminate between aggressive and nonaggressive disease,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Renny Franceschi in a news release. Biomarkers are indicators of abnormal conditions or functions in the body, including the predisposition to certain diseases. The transcription factor Runx2 is linked to bone development, where it is activated by a process called phosphorylation (addition of phosphate groups). Curiously, Runx2 has been reported to be abnormally expressed in prostate cancer and to be associated to cancer spread (metastasis). The research team hypothesized that phosphorylation of the Runx2 protein alters its structure and activates certain genes in both bone and prostate cells, yielding different outcomes. Their idea was that while Runx2 and activated genes are required for bone formation, in prostate cancer cells Runx2 activates genes link
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