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Novel Epigenetic Biomarkers that indicate more severe kinds of Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer
About the Research:

Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have uncovered new epigenetic biomarkers that predict more severe types of prostate cancer. The use of the biomarkers in conjunction with standard clinical techniques may help physicians develop a more efficient treatment plan and predict if a patient will later develop a more serious and metastatic form of the illness. Men with prostate cancer require more individualized treatments that are based on the characteristics of their tumors, and they cannot get these treatments without new biomarkers that can more accurately predict the likelihood of developing the fatal form of the disease, according to Professor Susan Clark, Head of the Epigenetic Research lab at Garvan and study’s principal investigator.

Risk factors for Prostate Cancer:

Anything that increases the chance of contracting an illness like cancer is considered a risk factor. Risk factors for various malignancies vary. Smoking is one risk factor that may be altered. Others, such as an individual’s age or family history, cannot be changed. However, even if a person has one or more risk factors, it does not mean they will develop the disorder. Others who develop cancer may have had few or no known risk factors, while many people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease. Numerous variables that may influence a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer have been discovered by researchers.

About Prostate Cancer:

One of the longest and most thorough molecular studies on the development of prostate cancer is this one. The biology of the illness is difficult to study because of how slowly it develops.

The researchers were able to analyse the samples from 185 men who had their prostates removed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in the 1990s and 2000s because of the bank of biopsies that has been kept at Garvan and St. Vincent’s Hospital for the past 20 years. The researchers then monitored the number of individuals who recovered and the number who died from the condition, some more than 15 years later. The researchers looked at their genomes and discovered 1420 locations that were unique to prostate cancer and where epigenetic changes, or DNA methylation marks, may be seen. The methylation process can alter a gene’s function without altering the gene’s DNA sequence, as a mutation does.

The CACNA2D4 gene, which is involved in calcium channel modulation, was found to be a significant biomarker in 18 of those sites. Researchers urgently need to comprehend how the methylation process may decrease the gene’s function because there is very little information available about this gene and it is not frequently profiled, according to Dr. Ruth Pidsley, the study’s first author. The group has made the detailed epigenome sequencing data accessible for the use, by other researchers in their work on prostate cancer. The results of the epigenome study revealed variations between individuals with the fatal and non-lethal types of prostate cancer, and the biomarkers also increased the prognostic accuracy of currently used clinical tools.

The new discoveries provide promise for a technique to treat cancer in a more individualized manner. According to Professor Lisa Horvath, an oncologist and researcher at Garvan who served as the clinical lead on the study, what we really want to know on the day a patient is diagnosed is who has the potential for lethal prostate cancer and who does not because it will change the way the cancer is treated.

Researchers may be able to determine who has deadly prostate cancer and who does not use these epigenetic biomarkers. The next step is to expand the research and find out if the biomarkers may initially be found in blood samples.


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