Senior investigator Dr. Mark A. Rubin of Weill Cornell Medical College and a pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York said fewer than 2 percent of prostate tumors in men are initially classified as neuroendocrine, a prostate cancer that changes biology during hormone therapy and morphs into an aggressive subtype of cancer.
The findings "are very exciting, because our bench-to-bedside approach identified a new molecular target for a subtype of prostate cancer for which a drug is now available," Rubin said in a statement.
The finding will be important because many men are now being treated with new, highly potent androgen suppression therapy, which the researchers said will significantly increase the risk of future development of neuroendocrine tumors.
Androgen is the fuel that feeds adenocarcinoma prostate cancers -- the most common kind of prostate cancer -- and androgen suppression therapy effectively destroys cancer cells that depend on this hormone, Rubin explained.
The findings were published in Cancer Discovery.