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Hidden clue in blood could help fight aggressive prostate cancer

Canadian researcher paving the way to more treatments for men who need it most

New findings published in world-renowned scientific journal, Cell, are helping researchers study prostate cancer in a whole new way. Their findings could have a worldwide domino effect, changing the course of treatments for many cancers. Dr. Hansen He, based at University Health Network and University of Toronto, set out to solve which men will have slow-growing prostate cancer that is easily treated, and which will develop an aggressive form that can be life-threatening. Tests currently exist to detect prostate cancer, but cannot determine if it will be aggressive or not.
Dr. Hansen He in his lab

A hidden clue in blood

Dr. He identified a flag in the blood associated with prostate cancer progression, called “circularized RNA.” RNA is genetic material that carries the instructions for building cells. RNA strands are usually linear, like a piece of string, but this type is circular. Circular RNA has been missed in the past because nobody knew it existed in cancer cells. Nobody was looking for it. It’s now known that circular RNA plays a critical role in cells, especially in activating tumour growth.

Dr. He and his team identified that aggressive prostate cancer tumours have more circularized RNA, which is essential for cancer cells to grow. This discovery could lead to a test to identify aggressive types of prostate cancer, and help doctors select better treatments for their patients.

Canadian scientists leading prostate cancer research

This is one of the first and largest studies looking at circular RNA in cancer. Not only does it prove circularized RNA has implications in prostate cancer, it also demonstrates it plays a part in many other cancers.

This work was supported by Prostate Cancer Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The Center for Translational Molecular Medicine, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Ontario Research Fund, the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, the Princess Margaret Genomic Centre, Terry Fox Research Institute, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Shanghai Committee of Science and Technology, and  University of Toronto.
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Posted: 2019-03-04 10:39:44 AM


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