Cambridge, Mass. –February 2, 2011– Metamark Genetics, Inc., a privately-held oncology molecular diagnostics company, today announced results from a landmark prostate cancer study published as an Advance Online Publication in the journal Nature. The study describes the identification of a key tumor suppressor of prostate cancer progression in mice and humans, as well as reveals four markers that are predictive of biochemical recurrence and lethal metastasis in human prostate cancer. The study, entitled, “Smad4-dependent barrier constrains prostate cancer growth and metastatic progression,” was conducted by Metamark scientific co-founders, Lynda Chin, M.D. and Ronald DePinho, M.D.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and the second leading cause of death in American men.More than 217,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year in the United States alone. Although the vast majority of cases remain localized and indolent, some early-stage prostate cancers appear to be hardwired for aggressive behavior and, if left untreated, will spread beyond the prostate and ultimately become lethal.
“Human prostate cancers are extremely complex at the cellular and genomic levels, making it difficult to identify molecular markers that are predictive of lethal forms of cancer. In order to tackle this complexity, we intersected human data with data derived from refined mouse models of prostate cancerwith metastatic versus non-metastatic potential,” said DePinho. “These cross-species comparisons, refined further with functional analyses, enabled us to identify a novel panel of molecular markers with robust potential to separate men into low and high risk for death from prostate cancer.”
Commenting on the study findings, Peter Blume-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer for Metamark stated, “Clinicians are currently unable to correctly distinguish between patients with aggressive versus indolent forms of disease based on clinical and pathologic parameters. Consequently, a significant number of patients receive more aggressive treatment than they need and suffer from the associated side effects, such as infertility, incontinence and pain. The study published in Nature represents a landmark breakthrough in our understanding of proteins that are critical for aggressive forms of human prostate cancer. We believe that the findings will have important implications for our ability to improve the prognosis and treatment of prostate cancer patients.”
Metamark has exclusively licensed a portfolio of technologies, including those described in this manuscript, from The Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Based on the results of the Nature study, Metamark is developing a novel test for prostate cancer prognosis. Metamark scientists are also developing precise, molecularly-based prognostic tests for additional cancer types that will help guide physicians in determining the most appropriate treatment for each patient, potentially including the identification of those that can be spared from unnecessary aggressive treatment and procedures. “Ultimately, our goal is to advance the standard of care by providing an evidence-based approach to management of cancer patients,” said Blume-Jensen.
This Naturestudy can be found by searching for the digital object identifier (DOI) number 10.1038/nature09677 at the following URL: http://dx.doi.org/.
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Mark R. Straley, President & CEO