PhotoA study conducted by researchers in Germany and Denmark has revealed a new therapeutic target for treating prostate cancer. These experts say that manipulating a gene called CHD1 in prostate tumors can make them more vulnerable to a variety of drug treatments.

“I am very excited about the translational potential of the study, and we are getting into contact with pharmaceutical companies to try to translate these findings into clinical development,” said Steven Johnsen, a professor and researcher from University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany.

Increasing vulnerability

The researchers say that CHD1 is one of the most frequently mutated genes in prostate tumors – with it naturally changing in 15-27% of all cases. When this gene mutates, it throws off the stability of chromosomes in patients and usually leads to a poorer health outcome.

However, when CHD1 is removed from prostate tumors, defects occur which make the tumors more susceptible to drug treatments. The researchers found that depleting levels of this gene led to defects in homologous recombination (HR), a process that is necessary for repairing damage to DNA molecules. Defects to HR in tumor cells make molecules weak, and allow them to be manipulated more easily.

Currently, researchers are working with an assortment of chemotherapeutic drugs that cause breaks in DNA, including Mitomycin C, Irinotecan, and PARP inhibitors. They believe that the last of these drugs could hold promise for improving outcomes in those suffering from prostate cancer.

“A retrospective analysis of the CHD1 gene in these samples may reveal the potential utility of CHD1 as a biomarker for improved prostate cancer patient stratification and targeted therapy with PARP inhibitors,” said Johnsen.

The full study has been published in EMBO Reports.

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