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Detecting the undetectable in prostate cancer screening
Date:10/19/2009

at the Lurie Cancer Center. He was the first to demonstrate that the PSA test, a simple blood test, could be used as a screening tool for prostate cancer.

"Studies have shown that postoperative radiation therapy given early to patients with adverse pathology, called adjuvant radiation, reduces the recurrence rate and improves survival," Catalona said. "Because the 'nano-PSA assay' is more sensitive than the current commercially available PSA tests, it may allow physicians to target adjuvant radiation for patients destined to have a life-threatening tumor recurrence."

The study is an early indicator of how nanotechnology can be used to improve medical diagnostics and early cancer detection. In the case of prostate cancer recurrence following primary surgical treatment, patients with detectable but non-rising PSA levels could be reassured that their cancer will not recur. This reassurance potentially could be delivered much earlier than with conventional diagnostic tools. For patients with increasing levels of PSA, detected before conventional tools are able, doctors could diagnose a recurrence and intervene accordingly.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of post-operative treatment could be assessed by monitoring a patient's PSA levels. Tracking PSA levels early, before conventional tools are able, may allow doctors to validate treatments for recurrent cancer, such as radiation, hormone therapies and chemotherapies. The most effective will be able to keep down PSA levels.

"The first route to a new therapeutic is a good diagnostic tool, and that's what we have here," said Mirkin, director of Northwestern's International Institute for Nanotechnology. "This bio-barcode assay, or a variant of it, could be a commercial tool in as little as 18 months. The technology is there. Now it's a business decision."

PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland and found in the bloodstream. This pilot study looked at serum sam
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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