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June 29, 2016

Canadian researchers create protein signatures to diagnose prostate cancer

Researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) and Eastern Virginia Medical School have discovered protein signatures that can help in the accurate, non-invasive diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer.

By Lopamudra Roy

Researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) and Eastern Virginia Medical School have discovered protein signatures that can help in the accurate, non-invasive diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer.

The researchers stated that the signatures could help distinguish between patients with aggressive or non-aggressive disease using a simple urine sample.

OICR principal investigator Dr. Paul Boutros said: "The amazing thing about these signatures is that their rate of accuracy is as good or better than the invasive tests that are used today, with far fewer drawbacks.

"They can replace invasive, expensive, uncomfortable tests with something much easier and simpler. This type of cheap, non-invasive testing could allow patients to be screened much more frequently, allowing for more accurate monitoring of patients’ non-aggressive cancer over time, sparing patients biopsies, imaging tests and even unnecessary surgeries."

"The amazing thing about these signatures is that their rate of accuracy is as good or better than the invasive tests that are used today, with far fewer drawbacks."

During a study, researchers conducted initial discovery screen on urine samples from men who were diagnosed with aggressive and non-aggressive prostate cancer.

The researchers looked for all proteins in the urine samples that might be different between the patients and identified a subset of proteins unique to each grouping and developed two signatures.

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Of the two signatures, one could be used to accurately indicate whether a patient has prostate cancer or not and a separate signature to indicate outcome.

OICR bioinformatician Dr. Clare Jeon said: "Initial proteomics work in this study generated expression information from 624 proteins.

"Computational analyses performed here at OICR reduced the number of proteins by identifying significantly differentially expressed proteins and finally characterised a set of six protein biomarkers for diagnosis and a set of seven protein biomarkers for prognosis of prostate cancer."

The research will now be prepared for a large retrospective validation study, and after successful completion it would be moved into clinical trials.

In Canada, prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men. Last year, more than 24,000 Canadian men were diagnosed with the disease.

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