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  • Biomarker Complements Prostate Cancer Checks
    prostatic adenocarcinoma credit UCL

Biomarker Complements Prostate Cancer Checks

Mar 19 2020 Read 617 Times

A new test to identify the earliest genetic changes of prostate cancer in blood, which could allow doctors to see if cancers have spread, monitor tumour behaviour and enable better treatment selection, has been developed(1) by researchers at University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute.

Using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) the research team identified a prostate tissue fingerprint or early circulating biomarker in blood that indicates cancer is active and spreading. As this can be detected in a simple blood test, or liquid biopsy, physicians could monitor cancer response to treatment regularly and in real-time rather than having to use invasive tissue-sampling procedures.

Investigations are continuing as to whether this test could complement or replace the traditional prostate specific antigen test (PSA) used for prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring.

Lead author, Dr Anjui Wu said: “Metastatic prostate cancer – the most dangerous late stage of the disease – can vary substantially in its treatment response and clinical progression.

“We urgently need biomarkers that will help us determine how far along each patient’s cancer is, to determine the best course of treatment.

“With tumour biopsies difficult to obtain, being able to identify prostate cancer DNA signatures at the earliest opportunity in blood, will help monitor patients better and assist more effective treatment selection and combination.”

Corresponding author, Professor Gert Attard said: “We are now testing our new technique in trial patients to see if it can complement or substitute the traditional serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) for diagnosis, risk assignment and monitoring how well a treatment is working.

“We believe the increased sensitivity and additional information we derive, will significantly improve the outcomes of men with advanced prostate cancer.” 

Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UCL, said “The field of liquid biopsies has shown great potential recently to improve the diagnosis and management of cancer patients.

“This test could be the first to tell us cancer has got into blood before the spread is large enough to see on imaging. This could allow targeting of treatment for men at the highest risk of prostate cancer spread.”

This research was funded by a Prostate Cancer Foundation Challenge Award, with additional support by Cancer Research UK and the John Black Charitable Foundation.

Further information from

(1) Published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation

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