Brussels, 24 Nov 2004
An international team of scientists from Finland and the US have discovered a new cancer gene which, when damaged, may promote prostate cancer - a finding that may lead to the development of new forms of therapy.
The team made the discovery after developing a method for identifying tumour growth suppressing genes and their mutations using microarrays, with the aim of pinpointing those genes in the human genome whose function has failed in cancer cells.
Using this method, the researchers found errors in the EPHB2 gene, which plays a role in intracellular communication and is required for cell differentiation, mobility and maintenance of tissue structure. A defect in this gene, therefore, may cause tissue disorganisation and promote the proliferation of cancer cells.
According to a press release from the Finnish partner, the Technical Research Centre of Finland: 'This finding helps to provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of cancer, which is an essential step in the development of novel anti-cancer therapies.'
The origins of prostate cancer remain largely unknown, but scientists believe that the genetic errors that occur in prostate cells during the ageing process play a significant role. Prostate cancer is the most widely diagnosed form of cancer in men, and it is becoming increasingly common.