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Mutated Mitochondria

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A new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics shows there are many mutations in the mitochondrial DNA of human prostate cancer cells, says New Scientist's Wendy Zukerman. This finding could provide doctors with a new target for treatment. Researchers at Innsbruck Medical University in Austria compared the entire mitochondrial genome of cancerous and non-cancerous tissue from 30 men with prostate cancer, and found a total of 41 mutations in the cancerous cells that were absent in the healthy ones, Zukerman says. The researchers say this points to the mutations being specifically associated with the development of prostate cancer. They also found that the mtDNA of the more advanced cancers contained more mutations than that of less developed cancers, meaning doctors could also use the rate of mutations as a way to track cancer progression and metastasis, Zukerman adds.

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