Epigenetic Biomarkers: Promising Tools for Prostate Cancer
One in seven Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Despite its high incidence rate, the 10-year survival rate for local or regional prostate cancer is 99%. There are currently no reliable tools to distinguish between patients with aggressive disease who require immediate treatment versus those with indolent, slow-growing disease who can be monitored over time rather than treated through surgery and/or other therapies. Thus, men with a diagnosis of prostate cancer face considerable anxiety, especially when it comes to their treatment options.
Our lab has investigated the genomes of prostate cancer patients and discovered promising “epigenetic” biomarkers that can predict which patients can forgo immediate treatment as well as which patients may be at higher risk of disease recurrence after surgery. Epigenetic biomarkers do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, alter which genes are turned “on” or “off” in a cell. By studying such epigenetic biomarkers in non-invasive urine and blood samples, as well as prostate biopsies and tumours of patients, we hope to develop clinical tests that will serve as better tools to optimize patient monitoring and treatment decisions and provide more personalized care to patients and their families.
2017: Emma Jones
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