According to a major study, the vast majority of advanced prostate tumors contain genetic faults that make them sensitive to drugs already available or in development.
The findings were published in the journal Cell.
These findings could open the door to dozens of new trials for men with prostate cancer.
Previous large-scale genetic studies of prostate cancer generally relied on tumor samples taken from men at earlier stages of the disease.
The new study took samples from 150 men who have previously had surgery to remove their prostate tumor and hormone treatment, after which the disease had spread and become resistant.
The tumor samples were taken from the participants’ lymph nodes, bone, liver and other tissues.
The study found that about 90% of the samples contained previously-known DNA errors linked to sensitivity to existing or experimental drugs.
About a quarter of the samples contained faults in genes like BRCA1, BRCA2 and ATM which are involved in DNA repair. Faults in these genes re linked to sensitivity to drugs called PARP inhibitors, originally developed to treat breast and ovarian cancers but now being tested in prostate cancer.
The study provides a strong argument that the genomics driving advanced prostate cancer is fundamentally different than primary prostate cancer.
For the first time, researchers have produced a comprehensive genetic map of the mutations in prostate cancers that have spread around the body.
This is a long stride towards an era of precision medicine, where treatments are tailored according to the makeup of an individual patient’s cancer. This finding will help new clinical trials to be set up to test whether these drugs could help some of the many thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer.