Survey of Tumors Reveals Second Gene "Signature"
New research suggests that a recently discovered class of genes called microRNAs could potentially be used broadly to diagnose and classify tumors, including those of unknown origin.
During the last 5 years, researchers have found more than 200 microRNAs in humans. These small molecules - about 25 units of genetic code in length - are thought to regulate the activity of genes during development and may do the same for some genes involved in cancer.
To determine whether profiling microRNA gene activity would yield useful information, researchers in Boston surveyed the activity of 217 microRNA genes in a diverse collection of human tumors. The microRNA genes were "surprisingly informative," and the researchers found signature patterns of activity associated with different tumors, they report in the June 8 Nature. Read more
Prostate Cancer Research:
A Model for Success
Men's Health Week, June 13-19, is a good time to celebrate the tremendous progress we've made against prostate cancer - the second leading cause of cancer death among men after lung cancer. Remarkably, more than 85 percent of all prostate cancer diagnoses now occur before the disease has spread. As a result, the relative 5- and 10-year survival rates for men diagnosed at this stage are 98 and 86 percent, respectively.
But a prostate cancer diagnosis offers a vexing choice for many men, because only 1 in 10 prostate cancers poses a mortal threat. In the absence of symptoms, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and biopsy results yield limited information about how aggressive the disease is. As a result, for many men, whether to undergo treatments such as surgical removal of the entire prostate, radiation, or engage in watchful waiting, is disturbingly ambiguous. Read more