The current prostate cancer test screens for a protein called prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, that is produced by the cells of the prostate. Elevated levels of PSA in the blood can signify prostate cancer, but non-cancerous conditions such as an enlarged or inflamed prostate also cause an increase in its levels, he said.
The findings of the study, which was funded by the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the National Institutes of Health, were published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.
The study was performed in collaboration with physician scientists from Indiana University School of Medicine, who co-authored the paper. They also provided the tissue samples and pathological analysis of the samples to check the new technique's results.
The team used a mass spectrometry analysis technique developed by Cooks and coworkers called desorption electrospray ionization, or DESI, to measure and compare the chemical characteristics of 68 samples of normal and cancerous prostate tissue.
Mass spectrometry works by first turning molecules into ions, or electrically charged versions of themselves, so that they can be identified by their mass. Conventional mass spectrometry requires chemical separations, manipulations of samples and containment in a vacuum chamber for ionization and analysis. The DESI technique eliminates these requirements by performing the ionization step in the air or directly on surfaces outside of the mass spectrometers, making the process much simpler, faster and more applicable to medical examination or surgical settings.
Cooks' research team also has developed software that turns the distribution and intensity of selected ions within a sample into a computer-generated image, much like what would be seen from a stained slide under the microscope. This chemical map of the sample can precisely show the locat
|Contact: Elizabeth K. Gardner|