Genome's dark matter offers clues to major challenge in prostate cancer
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IMAGE: This is Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D. view more 

Credit: Rogel Cancer Center

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The dark matter of the human genome may shed light on how the hormone androgen impacts prostate cancer.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center identified a novel gene they named ARLNC1 that controls signals from the androgen receptor, a key player in prostate cancer. Knocking down this long non-coding RNA in mice led to cancer cell death, suggesting this may be a key target for future therapies. The study is published in Nature Genetics.

Current prostate cancer treatments aim to block the androgen receptor to stop cancer growth. But most patients become resistance to androgen-specific therapies, developing a challenging form of the disease called metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

“The androgen receptor is an important target in prostate cancer. Understanding that target is important. This study identifies a feedback loop that we could potentially disrupt as an alternative to blocking the androgen receptor directly,” says study senior author Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.

Chinnaiyan’s lab identified thousands of lncRNAs in a 2015 paper. Long non-coding RNAs are considered the dark matter of the

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