Prostate Cancer is a deadly disease that is expected to take the lives of over 27,000 American men this year. It is estimated that more than 192,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2009. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men.
In about 75 percent of cases, prostate cancer arises sporadically. About 15-20 percent of cases have a familial or environmental component and in the remaining 5-10 percent of cases, prostate cancer is inherited—caused by mutations in genes that are passed down from generation to generation.
Evidence suggests that men who are genetically prone to the disease tend to have more aggressive and often more fatal cancers than men who are not. Because there is no way to tell whether a person has the aggressive version or the mild version of prostate cancer, both forms are treated the same—with chemotherapy or surgery to remove the prostate gland. Because of prostate cancer's high incidence and impact on quality of life, it would be beneficial if physicians could determine who is at risk for developing this disease and prevent it.
There are few prostate cancer-specific drugs available even after decades of research. TGen's mission is to accelerate the search for genes that cause prostate cancer and discover potential new drug targets.
Researchers at TGen are focused on searching for genetic identifiers that will act as predictors for prostate cancer. TGen is currently conducting the most in-depth study of its kind designed to scan the genomes of 112 families with prostate cancer to identify genetic risk factors for the disease. Once these risk factors are identified, scientists can use that information to develop diagnostic and prognostic tools to help physicians treat their patients.
Cancer Gene Discovery and Molecular Validation Unit at TGen
Dr. John Carpten
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