Over the years, Mirakind has shared research and information about the KRAS-variant and how it can have many health implications – from cancer to autoimmunity to response to hormone replacement therapy.
Now, we’re excited to share with you some new findings concerning other genetic mutations, like the KRAS-variant, that could help guide treatment decisions for those with prostate cancer!
These mutations can serve as an indicator, or biomarker, to help patients with prostate cancer make better-informed treatment decisions to choose the safest treatment.
This new prostate cancer biomarker panel is made up of mutations in specific genes in your DNA. Like the KRAS-variant, these mutations are called germline mutations, meaning they were inherited from your biological mother or father, and are in every cell of your body. Our research at MiraKind is to apply these recently discovered genetic biomarkers for different types of cancers and diseases and use this information to help reduce disease risk or guide health decisions.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men.
Risk factors include age, race, family history, and obesity. Symptoms include trouble urinating, decreased urination stream, blood in semen, pelvic area discomfort, bone pain, and erectile dysfunction. Early prostate cancer may cause little to no symptoms early on, but if you have any concerning symptoms and/or fit the increased risk category, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your concerns and consider prostate screening. When prostate cancer is caught early – while it’s still confined to the prostate – patients have a better chance of being cured.
Treatment can involve radiation therapy, surgery, and/or hormone therapy. Recent research from Dr. Weidhaas’s laboratory has recently found biomarkers that can help separate groups of patients who respond well to certain radiation therapy treatments, versus others.
Radiation is a common form of treatment for prostate cancer, and has the advantage of being non-invasive, as it is delivered from the outside and feels like getting an x-ray. The most challenging part of radiation treatment for prostate cancer has been that it was often given over 8 weeks, and was thus quite time-consuming. Recently, it has been shown that radiation can be delivered in 5 days, versus 8 weeks for prostate cancer, and patients seem to do just as well, considering cancer control and minimal side effects. The advantage of a 5-day treatment versus 8 weeks is obvious, and of course, most patients prefer that option.
While both 5 days and 8 weeks are generally safe, about 5-7% of patients will have long-lasting side effects that negatively impact their quality of life.
Since these numbers are similar regardless of which treatment is chosen, there has been no guidance on choosing one treatment course over the other (5 days versus 8 weeks). However, Dr. Weidhaas’s lab, in collaboration with the radiation oncology department at UCLA, studied DNA from patients who received 5 days, or 8 weeks of treatment for their prostate cancer, who had known responses, including side effects from treatment. Through this study, they were able to identify biomarkers that could identify patients who were at a greater risk of having long-term toxicity in response to their radiation treatment.
Interestingly, what they were able to show was that patients who were at a high risk of toxicity after 5 days of radiation were not the same patients at high risk of toxicity after 8 weeks of radiation. In other words, there are certain patients who are at greater risk of toxicity if they receive the 5-day treatment and a different set of patients who are at greater risk if they get the 8-week treatment. These prostate cancer biomarkers could help a patient, along with their doctor, determine the best and safest course of treatment for their prostate cancer.
Dr. Weidhaas is currently collaborating on a new study with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center to further validate these new prostate cancer biomarkers.
If you or someone you know has prostate cancer and is interested in participating in this study, please contact the Clinical Research Coordinator for the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 267-8146. For more information about the study, please see the clinical trial page here.