Roswell Park Team Identifies Potential Biomarker for Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Late-breaking research presented at AACR annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

  • Researchers identify gene linked to aggressive prostate cancer tumors
  • This work may help oncologists to identify aggressive prostate tumors sooner
  • Additional studies underway to confirm, expand on these findings

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene that influences metastasis in prostate cancer, and may help clinicians to identify aggressive prostate tumors before they progress and spread to other organs. They are presenting results of this research today at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2017, which continues through April 5 in Washington, D.C.

The 5-year survival rate from prostate cancer has risen to 98%, yet aggressive prostate cancers continue to claim lives. Using an unconventional approach focused on off-target data from two genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screens, Roswell Park scientists identified disrupted genes that increased metastasis in both cell cultures and laboratory models of cancer. Henry Withers, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Cancer Genetics, is the first author and Irwin Gelman, PhD, also of the Department of Cancer Genetics, is the senior author of “Characterization of an off-target RNAi genomic screen hit identifies GPRC6A as a novel suppressor of metastatic chemotaxis and invasiveness” (late-breaking poster LB-148), to be presented on Monday, April 3 at 1 p.m. EDT.

Capitalizing on overlapping results from two different genetic screens, the team determined that loss of a particular gene, GPRC6A, caused prostate cancer cells to become more invasive and metastatic. The researchers also identified specific microRNAs, or non-coding RNA molecules, that normally function to turn off production of GPRC6A. The researchers are continuing their investigation with the goal of determining whether GPRC6A and associated microRNAs can be used to predict cancer aggressiveness, thereby identifying aggressive disease early and finding targeted treatments for this potentially deadly prostate cancer.

“This research offers a new understanding into the mechanisms that promote early prostate cancer progression from a relatively non-threatening tumor to more aggressive and deadly metastatic growths,” says Dr. Gelman. “This study may help us to identify new treatment options that can improve survival from metastatic prostate cancer.”

More than 25 teams from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have been invited to present their research at the 2017 AACR annual meeting. The research studies cover the gamut from novel insights into a potential biomarker for glioma and an epigenetic approach to understanding androgen deprivation therapy to a microRNA signature scoring system that may predict bone metastasis in breast cancer.


The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-877-ASK-Roswell Park (1-866-559-4838) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

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