American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Press Releases

Scientists Identify KRAS Rearrangements in Metastatic Prostate Cancer


April 3, 2011

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• Genetic information may allow doctors to determine cancer prognosis.
• KRAS is a known “oncogene” that leads to cancer.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Scientists have uncovered a genetic characteristic of metastatic prostate cancer that defines a rare sub-type of this disease. These findings are published in Cancer Discovery, the newest journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, which will debut at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held April 2-6.

Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, and colleagues identified an oncogenic gene fusion of KRAS, one of the most studied and well-known oncogenes in a metastatic prostate cancer cell line.

Like most metastatic disease, metastatic prostate cancer has a grim prognosis. As scientists learn more about the genetic characteristics of this disease, they may be able to work backward and accurately predict which early-stage prostate cancers will be more aggressive and thus require additional therapy and management.

“Right now, we can identify the presence of prostate cancer but not accurately predict which of these cancers will have a poor prognosis,” said Chinnaiyan. “Although prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death, we need better prognostic information to separate the slow growing tumors from the more aggressive ones.”

Chinnaiyan compared the identification of the KRAS gene in metastatic prostate cancer to the work that has been previously done in breast cancer, where scientists now recognize that breast cancer comes in multiple subtypes and requires different treatment strategies.

“The more we know about the disease biologically, the better we’ll be able to treat it,” said Chinnaiyan.

Currently, there are no treatments that block the KRAS oncogene, but several are under development that target components of the KRAS signaling pathway.

This abstract was presented at an AACR press conference on Sunday, April 3 at 1:00 p.m. ET in room W313 of the Orange County Convention Center.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(267) 646-0557
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
In Orlando, April 2-6:
(407) 685-4001