is a common cancer in
males, which can be treated if diagnosed early. Since symptoms may not appear
till the later stages, routine screening for the cancer after 50 years of age
can detect several early stage cancers.
‘Ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing helps in developing a highly accurate and sensitive urine-based test for the early diagnosis of prostate cancer.’
Current non-invasive tests to diagnose prostate cancer
are not very reliable. A rectal examination
is used to
detect possible abnormalities of the prostate. A blood test to measure Prostate-Specific Antigen
(PSA) has been used over
the years for screening men with cancer. However, the
levels of PSA are often increased in other conditions as well like benign
enlargement of the prostate. False-positive results can
create unwanted stress and increase the number of men going in for an
unnecessary prostate biopsy. In addition, some cases of prostate cancer do not
show high PSA levels
. A gene-based test, Prostate Cancer Gene 3 (PCA3) test which is carried out
on the urine appears to be more accurate, but does have its limitations.
German Researchers led by Professor Friedemann Horn and
Professor Manfred Wirth are developing a new test that will be useful
for diagnosing prostate cancer. The new test will detect several non-protein-coding parts of RNA that
can be used as prostate cancer markers
. RNA is the
part of the cell, which helps decode information from DNA and use it to
assemble amino acids and form proteins. The RNA sequence has non-protein-coding parts, which were earlier thought to have no purpose.
However, later research has shown that they may be associated with cancer
development. Therefore, if the non-protein coding RNA associated with prostate
cancer are identified, their presence in a person undergoing screening could
indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Accuracy would be improved if a test
measured a group of such markers rather than a single one.
The researchers studied RNA from prostate cancer cells
obtained from surgically removed prostate cancers in several patients to note
which long non-protein coding RNA are more common in these cells, and could be
used as biomarkers
test will be conducted on urine samples obtained from patients, which makes
sample collection very easy.
Though the research is in a very early stage, it appears
to be in the right direction.
Dr. S. Shroff, a leading Urologist from India said, "This
is the first time a new approach has been taken to detect prostate cancer using
a combination of biomarkers in the urine and develop a chip to increase the
sensitivity and the specificity of the test to detect these cancers."
"However it is still early days and the test will need to be validated in
clinical situations and a trial will be required before it is widely available.
What will be interesting to follow would be to know if the test can detect
harmless prostate cancer against the aggressive lethal ones."
European Association of Urology Congress press release