MINNEAPOLIS, MN- July 23, 2019Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among American men. 

For decades, there has been no good sense of what drives prostate cancer beyond the androgen receptor, leaving many unanswered questions. Over the last five years, studies have found about 10–12 percent of all prostate cancers appear to be related to inherited genetic syndromes, with the most common being mutations in the BRCA 2 gene. University of Minnesota scientists are involved in national and international collaborations to better understand the biology and treatment options for these patients.

“It is of great value for patients with the gene mutation to come to a center of excellence, like the University of Minnesota,” said Arpit Rao, MBBS, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, University of Minnesota Medical School. “We can set them up with genetic counseling, help their family members get tested and guide their management.” 

The BRCA genes are important for preventing cancer and repairing cell damage. If it is lost or mutated, cancer is able to grow faster, grow easier and stop responding to conventional treatments. Cells divide so fast and so often that it doesn’t have the chance to repair its DNA. 

A prostate cancer patient with the BRCA mutation in all of his normal cells indicates that the gene was hereditary and it can continue to get passed down to his children. Catching cancer early is crucial, so it is important to get children tested if their father has the hereditary gene mutation. 

Charles Ryan, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, University of Minnesota Medical School, is leading the clinical trials for Triton II, a PARP inhibitor developed for the treatment of cancer. 

“Early data from the clinical trial showed remarkable responses for first-time prostate cancer patients with a BRCA mutation,” said Dr. Rao. “People are always asking ‘What’s the next big thing for men with advanced or metastatic prostate cancer?’ Well this may be it, at least for some of those men.”

About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Visit med.umn.edu to learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine.

Contact: Kelly Glynn
Media Relations Coordinator, University of Minnesota Medical School