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A portrait of functional associations of DNA and RNA in prostate cancer

Natalie Fox

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Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
The central dogma of molecular biology is that the genes from DNA are used as templates to make RNA transcripts, which in turn are the templates to create proteins. Proteins are the control mechanisms of life, determining everything from what we look like to how our bodies work. It is necessary to understand how this system of DNA to RNA to protein changes in order to treat diseases like cancer. One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer over the course of their lifetime. Standard treatment involves surgical resection of the prostate or radiotherapy, both of which have serious and long-term side-effects. It is therefore critical to avoid over-treatment while maintaining high cure-rates. However, personalized decision-making is hindered by the large variation of genetic mutations within the disease and our limited knowledge of the differences at a molecular level between cancerous and non-cancerous cells. The Canadian Prostate Cancer Genome Network (CPC-GENE) is one project determining the sequences of DNA and RNA in prostate cancer patients. Furthermore, CPC-GENE compares cancer sequence to sequences from individuals who do not have prostate cancer in order to determine mutations associated with the disease. My project is to analyze the interplay between DNA and RNA to identify which mutations are important to understanding prostate cancer and thereby providing better treatment options to patients.

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