Novel Prostate Cancer Biomarker Surpass Existing Prognostic Tools

Author:  Somnay Yash
Date:  February 2008

Researchers at the University of Michigan recently discovered a more reliable and expedient method to detect prostate cancer. This biomarker test challenges the standard PSA test in terms of accuracy, and may be the most accurate detector of prostate cancer available today. The increasing emphasis on preventive medicine among healthcare progressives has prompted investigations into more efficient and non-invasive prognosis tools for detecting cancer.

Prostate cancer stands as one of the deadliest and most elusive types of cancer, only second to lung cancer. This microscopic cancer can be found in autopsy in a significant majority of men; 1 in 6 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. This high prevalence rate summons the need for expedient and reliable prognosis methods.

According to Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., the lead researcher in this investigation and director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology at the University of Michigan, "Relative to what is out there, this is the best test so far."

Dr. Chinnaiyan and his team pursued this novel reporter based on their observation of a chromosomal fusion complex in prostate cancer models. When chromosomes break, often times, their sticky ends fuse together in randomized combinations. Cancer cell lines often times are characteristic of these complexes, which effectively disrupt and void genes on chromosomes that control normal cell growth and regulation.

Screening for the presence of RNA transcripts of these gene complexes in urine samples provides an invaluable tool for detecting the presence of prostate cancer growth in humans. Dr Chinnaiyan and his team discovered such a complex in human prostate cancer tissues. This TMPRSS2-ERG fusion gene in combination with three other identified biomarkers proved to be extremely accurate in predicting prostate cancer development when screened for among patients.


Studies using this new test achieved more than 75 percent accuracy in positively predicting prostate cancer patients, clearly outdoing former tests in terms of precision and efficiency. By reducing the number of false-positives, this more reliable prognostic tool presents great promise for reducing superfluous healthcare expenditures. Dr. Chinnaiyan attests that this biomarker panel may have utility for clinicians when used in conjunction with standard PSA tests, however, further validation studies are warranted.

The research was reported by American Association for Cancer Research.

Written by Yash Somnay

Reviewed by Muhammed Ziadh, Pooja Ghatalia

Published by Pooja Ghatalia.