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U-M researchers identify new blood test for prostate cancer

Test looks at 22 biomarkers; results more accurate than PSA

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a panel of 22 biomarkers that together provide a more accurate screening for prostate cancer than the current prostate specific antigen, or PSA, test.

The study appears in the Sept. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers looked at blood samples taken from 331 prostate cancer patients prior to surgery, and from 159 control males with no history of cancer. They began by testing the samples against a library of 2,300 bacteriophage, organisms that express proteins on their surface, and were able to narrow the field to the 22 biomarkers that most often pinpointed the cancerous blood samples.

More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Current screening methods involve a blood test to check for prostate specific antigen, an enzyme produced by the prostate. But the PSA test is controversial. A high level does not always indicate prostate cancer and some experts suggest a rise in PSA is more significant than a consistently high PSA. A high PSA level can also indicate benign prostate conditions.

"Initially, we envision this new test could be used as a supplement to PSA. A physician might suggest a patient with an elevated PSA have this test before a biopsy to better determine whether it's a cancerous or benign condition. In the future, I think this could replace PSA," says lead study author Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., the S.P. Hicks Collegiate Professor of Pathology at the U-M Medical School.

In the current study, researchers first tested the blood serum samples of 39 men with prostate cancer and 21 controls to identify autoantibodies against prostate cancer. Cancer patients produce antibodies that fight against proteins that play a role in cancer. The researchers scanned 2,300 autoantibodies and initially narrowed it down to 186 tha
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Source:University of Michigan Health System


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