According to a recent report in Cancer Discovery, researchers may have discovered a new treatment for neuroendocrine prostate cancer, the most fatal subtype of prostate cancer that occurs in less than 2% of men. The more common prostate adenocarcinoma can also progress into neuroendocrine prostate cancer, which has a bleak prognosis.

Mark Rubin, M.D., Professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College said:

“This is a highly lethal form of prostate cancer. It is also rare enough that it’s hard to get samples. This study is the largest of its kind, and it shows that we may be able to treat this highly aggressive disease.”

Rubin and his team used next-generation RNA to determine the primary structure for profiling samples of 7 neuroendocrine prostate cancers, 30 prostate adenocarcinomas and 5 benign prostate tissue samples. They discovered an overexpression of the genes AURKA and MYCN, which were amplified in 40 % of neuroendocrine prostate cancers and 5% of prostate adenocarcinomas. They also observed that growth of these neuroendocrine tumors was restrained when treated with the investigational aurora kinase (AURKA) inhibitor PHA-739358.

Previous studies of the inhibitor PHA-739358 in prostate cancers have been unsuccessful, however, according to Rubin this could be because earlier studies of prostate cancers were not neuroendocrine cancers.

Rubin commented:

“Prostate cancer is not a homogenous disease. We need to continue to sort out the aggressive disease from the indolent and treat accordingly.”

The Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Ann and William Bresnan Foundation, the Early Detection Research Network and the Department of Defense supplied funding for the study.

Written by Petra Rattue