UCLA researchers discover aggressive prostate and lung cancers are driven by common mechanisms
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IMAGE: Microscopic image of small cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer: cancer cells are seen expressing diagnostic prostate cancer markers in green and red (blue color indicates the cell nucleus) view more 

Credit: Jung Wook Park & Owen Witte

UCLA researchers have discovered a common process in the development of late-stage, small cell cancers of the prostate and lung. These shared molecular mechanisms could lead to the development of drugs to treat not just prostate and lung cancers, but small cell cancers of almost any organ.

The key finding: Prostate and lung cells have very different patterns of gene expression when they’re healthy, but almost identical patterns when they transform into small cell cancers. The research suggests that different types of small cell tumors evolve similarly, even when they come from different organs.

The study, led by Dr. Owen Witte, founding director of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, was published in the journal Science. Witte collaborated with scientists from UCLA’s Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Cancers that become resistant to treatment often develop into small cell cancers

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