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Using Urine Biomarkers to Detect Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Laboratory model of prostate cancer.

Through microRNAs, researchers have created a non-invasive, biomarker-based test that enables early detection of aggressive prostate cancer using a urine sample.

"We currently do not have accurate biomarkers to help determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancers that are not invasive," remarked Paul Boutros, PhD, Director of Cancer Data Science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study, which has now been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

MicroRNAs "are promising non-invasive biomarkers: they play essential roles in tumorigenesis, are stable under diverse analytical conditions, and can be detected in body fluids," write the researchers, led by Jouhyun Jeon, PhD, of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

The researchers, who are from the University of Toronto and UCLA, collected serial urines from 10 patients with localized prostate cancer and used those to measure the longitudinal stability of 673 microRNAs. Patients were followed for at least three years, enabling the investigators to understand how their cancer evolved with time. The investigators also measured temporally stable microRNAs from an independent training cohort consisting of 99 men without prostate cancer.

They then used machine-learning algorithms to compare the microRNAs from these two cohorts and create a biomarker that overcomes variation between individuals and is predictive of Gleason score, the grading system used to determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancer. The urine biomarker identified high-risk patients at an accuracy rate comparable to that of tissue-based prognostic markers.

Dr. Boutros emphasized the usefulness of the study's results: "What this test does is give the clinician, the patient, and their caregivers confidence in their treatment plan."

For More Information

Jeon J, Olkhov-Mitsel E, Xie H, et al (2019). Temporal stability and prognostic biomarker potential of the prostate cancer urine transcriptome. J Natl Cancer Inst. [Epub ahead of print] PII:djz112. DOI:10.1093/jnci/djz112

Image credit: National Institutes of Health

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