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Nearly 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK. Perhaps the most significant clinical challenge today is deciding which type of treatment will work best for different patient groups.

In the study "Single-cell ATAC and RNA sequencing reveal pre-existing and persistent cells associated with prostate cancer relapse", the researchers found that specific patterns in gene expression and DNA organisation can predict patient response to treatment.

The study utilized a combination of prostate cancer resistance models to Xtandi (enzalutamide) and advanced technology to analyze genes and DNA organization at the single-cell level. This revealed pre-existing subsets of cells that were treatment resistant and showed stem cell-like and regenerative gene expression patterns. The researchers' results suggest that the presence of such patterns in cancer tissue may predict the risk of recurrence and disease development. Such information can help tailor treatment for different subgroups of prostate cancer patients.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on 6 September 2021. Dr Andrew Erickson (postdoc on the CRUK SPACE Study and Dr Alastair Lamb (leading the CRUK SPACE Study) from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, put the transcript signatures into a spatial context in human prostate cancer specimens. 

Figure below: Single-cell level regenerative (PROSGenesis) and stem-like (Persist) gene patterns identified in prostate specimens. As modified from supplemental figure 6, Taavitsainen, S., Engedal, N., Cao, S. et al. Single-cell ATAC and RNA sequencing reveal pre-existing and persistent cells associated with prostate cancer relapse. Nat Commun 12, 5307 (2021).  

Single-cell level regenerative (PROSGenesis) and stem-like (Persist) gene patterns identified in prostate specimens. As modified from supplemental figure 6, Taavitsainen, S., Engedal, N., Cao, S. et al. Single-cell ATAC and RNA sequencing reveal pre-existing and persistent cells associated with prostate cancer relapse. Nat Commun 12, 5307 (2021).

 

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