World Bulletin / News Desk
Scientists have found two distinct genetic "signatures" for prostate cancer that may help doctors predict which patients have aggressive tumours, and designed experimental blood tests to read those genetic signs like barcodes.
The teams, whose work was published on Tuesday in the Lancet Oncology journal, believe tests developed from the signatures could eventually be used to tell which patients need immediate treatment.
"Prostate cancer is a very diverse disease - some people live with it for years without symptoms but for others it can be aggressive and life-threatening," said Johann de Bono, who led a study at Britain's Institute of Cancer Research. "So it's vital we develop reliable tests to tell the different types apart."
Researchers in Britain and the United States found that by reading the patterns of genes switched on and off in blood cells, they could accurately detect which advanced prostate cancer patients had the worst survival rates.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men after lung cancer. There were 899,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2008, the last year for which there is full global data, according to the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer.
While many cases can progress quickly, spreading to other organs and becoming deadly, experts say as many as half of prostate cancers are likely to remain confined to the prostate and are unlikely to become life-threatening.
The problem has always been knowing accurately, and at an early stage, which tumours are most likely to kill.
Although tests for aggressive forms of prostate cancer already exist, experts say they are only moderately accurate.
De Bono said scientists can learn more about prostate cancers by the signs they leave in blood. This allowed his team to develop a test potentially more accurate than those available now and easier for patients than taking a biopsy, he said.
"Our test reads the pattern of genetic activity like a barcode, picking up signs that a patient is likely to have a more aggressive cancer. Doctors should then be able to adjust the treatment they give accordingly," he said in a statement.
For his study, De Bono's team scanned all the genes in blood samples from 100 patients in London and Glasgow with prostate cancer. They included some already diagnosed with advanced cancer and some thought to have low-risk, early-stage cancer.
Using statistical modelling, the team divided the patients into four groups according to patterns of gene activity and, after almost two-and-a-half years, they found patients in one group had died significantly earlier than those in the others.
They pinpointed nine key active genes shared by all patients in that group, and when they tested another 70 Americans with prostate cancer, they again found these genes identified patients who survived for a shorter time - around 9 months compared to over 21 months for those without the gene pattern.
The second study by researchers in the United States identified a set of six genes linked to a more aggressive form of prostate cancer in a group of 62 patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The signature divided patients into two groups: one with an average survival time of 7.8 months and the other with an average survival of at least 34.9 months.
The British team said their signature included several genes involved in the immune system - suggesting the immune system is suppressed in patients whose cancers spread around the body.
Commenting on the work in The Lancet Oncology, Karina Dalsgaard Sorensen at Denmark's Aarhus University Hospital, who was not involved in either study, said the findings were welcome and significant.
"These results suggest that a few selected genes in blood samples from patients...can significantly improve the prediction of outcomes," she said.
Solar and wind's share in electricity production from renewable sources rose globally, share of hydro dropped in 2013, according to International Energy Agency report.
The fragile reef, which stretches 2,300 km (1,430 miles) along Australia's east coast was the centrepiece of a campaign by green groups and tour operators opposing the plan
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Western healthcare facilities would easily be able to contain the disease, and urged wealthy nations to share the knowledge and resources to help African countries tackle it.
Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufraj bin Saad al-Haqbani said the decision was temporary.
The World Health Organization has announced that the Ebola virus has killed some 1,552 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since the outbreak began in January.
UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson said the failure to address the issue of sanitation would prove “disastrous.”
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has taken 1,552 lives out of 3,069 known cases in four countries and "continues to accelerate", WHO said
Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah told AA the names would be announced later.
The WHO urged a range of "regulatory options", including prohibiting e-cigarette makers from making health claims
The doctor died after receiving the experimental drug ZMapp.
Japan has received inquiries from some countries on the influenza drug favipiravir, or T-705 as it is known in the developmental code.
Some 54 people have died in or near the capital Accra, and around 300 people are now being infected daily with the highly contagious disease, putting pressure on local health facilities, said Linda Van-Otoo, GHS director for Greater Accra.
A Philippine seaman is being monitored in Togo for signs of the disease but authorities say the country is still Ebola-free, despite dozens of workers returning from Liberia.
A 36-year-old man from Senegal is being tested in Barcelona.
MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has deployed 1,000 of its own staff in the stricken region, running centres that currently have 300 beds
On Wednesday, the residents of the two communities woke up just after the president ordered the quarantine only to find their community barricaded with soldiers and police officers preventing people from leaving or entering the two areas.