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Aurora magazine

More genetic tests to fight prostate cancer

A study by the Institute of Cancer Research in London (ICR) could open the door to a new treatment for prostate cancer. Researchers used a genetic test to identify damaged areas of DNA so they could be repaired with ad hoc treatments.

The new approach has already proved effective on prostate cancer patients, on whom traditional treatments had not worked. Unfortunately it doesn't work on all patients, though. It is therefore important to find a way to identify these subjects, in order to avoid treatments destined to be useless.

The treatment uses a drug containing a radioactive particle, which identifies the defective molecule on the surface of cancer cells. This specific molecule is called prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA). Analyzes have revealed that PSMA levels on the surface of cells change based on the type of tumor and its severity.

They could therefore help to identify the subjects who will benefit from the treatment. In tumors with a strong genetic component, on which the treatment is more effective, the levels of PSMA are high. It is estimated that they are four times higher than in other types of prostate cancer. From this, the researchers developed a genetic test to identify the patients in question and genetic abnormalities.

According to Professor Johann de Bono, the procedure offers an effective approach. Genetic tests should therefore be introduced in routine tests, so as to immediately identify the subjects on which to apply the treatment.