Normal human cells consist of 23 chromosomes. Any deviation from this number leads to a severe condition known as aneuploidy. Aneuploidy is responsible for many genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, Turners syndrome etc. It is known that cancer cells also show aneuploidy condition with less or more chromosome numbers.
Recently in a new study of prostate cancer, scientists found that a higher level of aneuploidy raises the risk of being lethal to patients. These findings pave a way for early & accurate detection of cancer prognosis in patients.
Aneuploidy condition is not always lethal. For example, in the case of Down syndrome or diseases with the presence of extra sex chromosome leads to development disorders but are not lethal. However, the high prevalence of aneuploidy condition among cancer cells raises a paradox. Why does aneuploidy impair normal cells ability to survive, while aneuploidy tumour cells are able to grow uncontrollably? There has been much evidence showing aneuploidy leads to aggressive cancer conditions. However, it has been difficult to understand the link as almost most tumours show aneuploidy. This makes it difficult to carry out a comparative study to get deeper insights.
Scientist searched for an ideal model to carry out the comparative analysis. Prostate cancer was chosen as an option because unlike other solid tumours, not all prostate cancers show aneuploidy.
Scientist collected prostate cancer samples, which were genetically sequenced. They studied the samples, over a span of 30 years to see if it has spread to other parts of the organ or the patients have died from the condition. With the help of genetic sequence and other data collected, scientist developed a method of calculating the degree of aneuploidy in each sample. Scientists came up with a conclusion that patients with a high degree of aneuploidy are at greater risk of death.
“The findings suggest that measuring aneuploidy could offer additional information for doctors who are deciding how to treat patients with prostate cancer” -Amon, who led this study.
Aneuploidy and cancer aggressiveness
The deeper analysis of genetic sequences of prostate cancer showed that aneuploidy is high in chromosome 7 and 8. Further studies are going on, to assess the genes located on these chromosomes, which help cancer spread aggressively. The research findings will be further used to understand why aneuploidy occurs in prostate tumours.
Scientists have also identified other types of cancer showing low levels aneuploidy such as thyroid cancer. They will be carrying studies to see if high levels of aneuploidy lead to a more lethal condition.
The correlation between aneuploidy and cancer can set a benchmark for the early identification of cancer prognosis.