Prostate and Small Cell Cancers of the Lung Share Genetic Drivers, Study Finds

Prostate and Small Cell Cancers of the Lung Share Genetic Drivers, Study Finds
Small cell cancers — cancers with very poor prognosis that often develop from less-aggressive tumors as a means to evade treatment — may be driven by common mechanisms regardless of the organ they're in. That finding comes from a study examining small cell cancers of the prostate and lung. The results show  these cancers all share five common gene regulators, which "could potentially simplify the development of new therapies for [small cell cancer], which is currently untreatable," researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles contend. The study, "Reprogramming normal human epithelial tissues to a common, lethal neuroendocrine cancer lineage," was published in the journal Science. Epithelial cancers — those arising from the cells lining the inner or outer surfaces of the body — can become resistant to treatment a number of ways. Several cancers do so by turning into more aggressive cancers, called small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma, or small cell cancers. These cancers usually have very poor prognosis, particularly because the molecular mechanisms leading to their transformation are poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, researchers explored whether small cell cancers arising from different organs (prostate and lung) shared any genetic drivers. Studies had shown that an increase in Myc protein levels, along with a transformation in the AKT1 protein,  which mimics the loss of PTEN, a tumor suppressor protein, could induce small cell
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Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.

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