Finally, advanced prostate cancer makes it into the genomeic world of cancer. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle published in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences an announcement that they have mapped the genomes of three different types of advanced prostate cancer.

The mapping showed that there are a number of recurrent genetic errors common to advanced lethal prostate cancer. They also identified several instances of genetic “hypermutation,” an excess of single-letter DNA errors that can give the cancers resistance to therapies commonly used to slow advanced advanced prostate cancer including castration and androgen-blocking drugs (ADT).

The study by “The most interesting finding to come out of our DNA sequencing project was the discovery of three aggressive tumor types that had 10 times the number of mutations compared to the other advanced prostate cancers we studied,” co-corresponding author Dr. Peter S. Nelson said in a research center news release. “That was very surprising and unusual. We don’t know the cause of these hypermutated tumors, but the frequency of the mutations suggests these tumors might evolve very rapidly to develop resistance to therapies,” he added.

The discovery of these genetic mutations could help improve understanding of why some prostate cancers are so deadly, and could also lead to improved screening tests or treatments, Nelson suggested. This discovery will certainly supply future researchers with genetic targets to aim future therapy agents.

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.