Urine test for prostate cancer would use metabolites

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It may one day be possible to detect prostate cancer from a simple, non-invasive urine test, a new study shows.

Researchers say they’ve made significant progress toward development of the test, which uses RNA and other specific metabolic chemicals in the urine.

As reported in Scientific Reports, researchers used RNA deep-sequencing and mass spectrometry to identify a previously unknown profile of RNAs and dietary byproducts, known as metabolites, among 126 patients and healthy, normal people.

The cohort included 64 patients with prostate cancer, 31 with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis diseases, and 31 healthy people with none of these conditions. RNA alone was not sufficient to positively identify the cancer, but the addition of a group of disease-specific metabolites provided separation of cancer from other diseases and healthy people.

“A simple and noninvasive urine test for prostate cancer would be a significant step forward in diagnosis. Tissue biopsies are invasive and notoriously difficult because they often miss cancer cells, and existing tests, such as PSA (prostate-specific antigen) elevation, are not very helpful in identifying cancer,” says senior author Ranjan Perera, an associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center member.

“We discovered cancer-specific changes in urinary RNAs and metabolites that—if confirmed in a larger, separate group of patients—will allow us to develop a urinary test for prostate cancer in the future,” says first author Bongyong Lee, and a senior scientist at the Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute.

The researchers emphasize that this is a proof-of-principle study for the test, and it must be validated in additional, larger studies before it is ready for clinical use.

Additional coauthors are from AdventHealth, the University of Florida, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, and the Shanghai Second Medical Institute.

The National Institutes of Health, the Florida Department of Health, Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program 5BC08, and the International Prostate Cancer Foundation, Southeast Center for Integrated Metabolomics funded the work.

Source: Johns Hopkins University