Health In Focus
Researchers are focusing on a possible new test to diagnose prostate cancer, which will be based on detection of several biomarkers from the urine. The findings were presented at the European Association of Urology Congress in Munich.

Prostate cancer 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.
Prostate Cancer Specific Test Using Ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing
Prostate Cancer Specific Test Using Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) Sequencing

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. The 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."

He added, "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."

Reference :
  1. European Association of Urology Congress press release

Source: Medindia

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