One in six American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetime and 186,000 will be diagnosed this year. For most men, their disease is confined to the prostate gland, making it easier to treat and less lethal. However, some unfortunate patients suffer from a more aggressive cancer that metastasizes, or spreads beyond the boundaries of the prostate gland. Physician-scientists are trying to uncover part of the disease's molecular fingerprint, with the hope of explaining why some forms metastasize. Their findings may help physicians provide tailored, and therefore, more effective treatments for patients.

Dr. Mark A. Rubin, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and vice chair for experimental pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and attending pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, believes that the common joining of two genes to form a new fusion gene influences a certain type of prostate cancer that is more aggressive and sensitive to hormones. In a recent article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Rubin describes how in addition to the male hormone testosterone, estrogen-typically thought of as a female hormone-can stimulate this fusion gene. Dr. Rubin's group is currently exploring how this mechanism may help us understand how aggressive prostate cancer progresses in the absence of male hormones.

Currently, Dr. Rubin and his colleague Dr. Francesca Demichelis, assistant professor in pathology and laboratory medicine and computational biomedicine at the Institute of Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, are testing blood samples and comparing the DNA of over 2,500 men with and without prostate cancer. They hope to discover clear genetic indicators of prostate cancer, especially its aggressive forms. Their findings will potentially lead to the development of diagnostic tests and preventive drugs for prostate cancer.

Weill Cornell Science Briefs

Weill Cornell Science Briefs is an electronic newsletter published by the Office of Public Affairs that focuses on innovative medical research and patient care at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The newsletter is sent electronically to journalists and available to all on this Web site. To read Science Briefs on the Web, please visit:

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances -- from the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer to the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth, and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian, which is ranked sixth on the U.S.News & World Report list of top hospitals, also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree oversees and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar.

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