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Mayo Clinic researchers discover biomarkers for prostate cancer detection, recurrence
Date:5/14/2012

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Alterations to the "on-off" switches of genes occur early in the development of prostate cancer and could be used as biomarkers to detect the disease months or even years earlier than current approaches, a Mayo Clinic study has found. These biomarkers known as DNA methylation profiles also can predict if the cancer is going to recur and if that recurrence will remain localized to the prostate or, instead, spread to other organs. The study, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, is the first to capture the methylation changes that occur across the entire human genome in prostate cancer.

The discovery could someday help physicians diagnose prostate cancer earlier and make more effective treatment decisions to improve cure rates and reduce deaths. It also points to the development of new drugs that reverse the DNA methylation changes, turning the "off" switch back "on" and returning the genetic code to its normal, noncancerous state.

"Our approach is more accurate and reliable than the widely used PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test," says senior author Krishna Donkena, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist.

The PSA test detects any prostate abnormality, whether inflammation, cancer, infection or enlargement, while the DNA methylation changes are specific to prostate cancer, she says.

Though the instructions for all the cell's activities lie within the genes, whether a particular gene is turned "off" or "on" is determined by the presence or absence of specific chemical tags or methyl groups methylation along the underlying DNA of cells. When this process of DNA methylation turns off the activity of tumor suppressor genes, cancer develops.

Dr. Donkena and her colleagues analyzed the methylation status of 14,495 genes from 238 prostate cancer patien
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Contact: Joe Dangor
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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