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Molecular fingerprints point the way to earlier cancer diagnosis and more targeted treatment
Date:3/23/2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. Metabolites are molecular fingerprints of what your cells are up to and Dr. Arun Sreekumar wants to know the impression made by cancer.

You've likely heard about metabolites; your physician probably screens for some known ones such as triglycerides or cholesterol at your annual physical. Scientists suspect we have about 3,000 metabolites that come from our food or are synthesized from different compounds in our bodies.

Dr. Sreekumar, a cancer researcher at the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center, wants those screens of the blood or urine to also detect early signs of cancers such as leukemia, bladder, kidney and breast when the chance for cure is best.

He's already begun to identify metabolites that indicate not only the presence of prostate cancer, but its aggressiveness, a tool that could help tailor optimal treatment. The search began in men at risk: those with elevated prostate specific antigen, or PSA, levels. A PSA test along with a digital rectal exam is today's standard for prostate screening so physicians typically do both in men age 50 and older. But PSA levels are actually better at helping determine if prostate cancer has returned, Dr. Sreekumar says.

Elevated levels of PSA, a protein, are not always predictive of cancer, which means a lot of men get unnecessary biopsies. PSA measurements also can't distinguish between tumors that have a good outcome versus those with a poor one.

"The physician does not really have the tools in hand to really say that this tumor will spread to other organs or not." says the Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar. "We want to find clinical markers that supplement PSA."

Aggressiveness is a major factor in prostate cancer treatment. In fact some men with slow growing disease likely won't even need treatment. So he wants to provide a complement of biomarkers that accurately diagnose and categorize the disease then help monitor suc
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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