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Researchers Discover Metabolite Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer
Date:2/11/2009

Finding could lead to test to help guide treatment decisions

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a panel of small molecules, or metabolites, that appear to indicate aggressive prostate cancer.

The finding could lead to a simple test that would help doctors determine which prostate cancers are slow-growing and which require immediate, aggressive treatment.

Results of the study appear in the Feb. 12 issue of Nature.

"One of the biggest challenges we face in prostate cancer is determining if the cancer is aggressive. We end up overtreating our patients because physicians don't know which tumors will be slow-growing. With this research, we have identified a potential marker for the aggressive tumors," says senior study author Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology at the U-M Medical School.

The researchers looked at 1,126 metabolites across 262 samples of tissue, blood or urine associated with benign prostate tissue, early stage prostate cancer and advanced, or metastatic, prostate cancer. They mapped the alterations in metabolites and identified about 10 that were present more often in prostate cancer than in the benign cells and were present most often in the advanced cancer samples.

"When we're looking at metabolites, we're looking several steps beyond genes and proteins. It allows us to look very deeply at some of the functions of the cells and the biochemistry that occurs during cancer development," says Chinnaiyan, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

One metabolite in particular, sarcosine, appeared to be one of the strongest indicators of advanced disease. Levels of sarcosine, an amino acid, were elevated in 79
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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