Scientists collaborating with the Institute of Cancer Research, London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have studied the DNA sequence, activity and visual of 444 tumours in 429 males with advanced prostate cancer. They have identified the retinoblastoma gene (RB1) mutation in the tumours of men with prostate cancer that is linked to high mortality rates. Their study found that patients with mutations in the RB1 gene in their tumours were 3.3 times more likely to die and 6.6 times more likely to relapse during the course of the study than those on standard treatment and without the gene. Testing for this mutation could identify patients requiring especially intensive treatment.
Professor Johann de Bono, Regius Professor of Cancer Research at the ICR, and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden, said: “Our study really got under the bonnet of prostate cancer to understand the ‘engine’ driving tumour growth and explore how a wide range of genes affect the disease and its response to treatment. We identified one particular genetic mutation that seems to indicate that tumours are going to be very aggressive, and that the affected men need the most intensive treatment we have available. Our research could also open up various new approaches to prostate cancer treatment, and offers the intriguing suggestion that some patients could benefit from immunotherapy alongside an existing breast cancer drug. That’s a great example of how genetic research can find the common links between cancers, and ensure research into one cancer type can also benefit patients with other tumours.”
“Gene mutation test could identify intensive treatment need.“
Chief Executive of the ICR, Professor Paul Workman, said: “There are a large number of genetic mutations present in a tumour, and working out their relative importance is crucial to deliver the best precision medicine to cancer patients. This exciting study has identified which features of advanced prostate tumours are the most important for treatment and survival, and has picked out one gene mutation in particular which has an especially serious adverse impact on how long patients live. The crucial thing now is that we make use of this information, by developing a test to identify affected men and to make sure they receive the best treatments we have available today, while also focusing our efforts on improving options for the future.”