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Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 02:20 GMT
Genes linked to prostate cancer
man in bed
Discovery could herald better tests and treatment
Genes linked to prostate cancer have been discovered by scientists in a breakthrough which could lead to better diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

By studying the 40,000 most common human genes, the research team has pinpointed eight which occur in men with the cancer.

The disease is the second biggest cancer killer among men in the US, claiming 40,000 lives a year, but current tests are not 100% accurate and many men have incurable conditions at the time of detection.


Of the 40,000 most abundant human genes, these eight are the most cloely linked to the known prostate cancer diagnostic genes and thus are prime targets for pharmaceutical research

Michael Walker
Current treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, combined with existing diagnostic tests, are some times not enough to prevent death.

Armed with new knowledge about the genes linked to the cancer, the scientists at Incyte Pharmaceuticals and Stanford University, California, claim it could now be possible to develop more effective treatments.

Combed

The team of researchers report in the journal Genome Research that they combed over 500 libraries for genes and compared them to those most commonly found in prostate cancer sufferers to find which ones were similar - a method they dubbed "guilt by association".

The eight genes they uncovered as being linked to prostate cancer could now be the target of further studies.

Lead author Michael Walker said: "Of the 40,000 most abundant human genes, these eight are the most closely linked to the known prostate cancer diagnostic genes and thus are prime targets for pharmaceutical research."

The scientists also discovered hundreds of genes linked with various cancers, inflammation, steroid-synthesis and other conditions using the "guilt by association" method.

They said they had taken into account the danger that they were merely discovering genes occurring in the same tissue, rather than being closely linked, by running back-up tests for confirmation.

See also:

01 Dec 99 | Health
Autism gene link
08 Dec 99 | Health
Ear infections linked to genetics
12 Nov 99 | Health
Gene clue to learning disability
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