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May 21, 2007

Genetic Variation Associated with Aggressive Prostate Cancer

  • Northwestern University researchers discovered that a recently identified genetic marker for prostate cancer is linked to a highly aggressive form of the disease.

    The 8q24 genetic variation was originally discovered by deCODE genetics in collaboration with Northwestern and two other research groups. The initial study by deCODE  showed that men who carry this marker have a 60% increase in risk of the disease.

    The current study looked at more than 550 prostate cancer patients. Researchers wanted to identify the characteristics of prostate cancer in men who were carriers of these genetic markers to see if their cancer differed from that in men who did not carry the gene variant.

    “We found the carriers of these 8q24 markers had more aggressive tumors,” says Brian Helfand, M.D., an assistant research professor of urology at Northwestern, a co-principal investigator of the study, and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Patients who were carriers had cancers that were more likely to spread into the lymph nodes and were more difficult to surgically remove.

    Dr. Helfand presented his findings on May 20 at the American Urological Association meeting.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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