New diagnostic tool determines aggressiveness of prostate cancer

April 25, 2012
Dr. Huo works with nanoparticles in her lab at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Credit: University of Central Florida

One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, the second leading cause of death among men in the United States.

It's a serious problem and current diagnostic tests aren't very specific. But a research team at the University of Central Florida NanoScience Technology Center has found a more accurate test that not only determines whether a patient has , but also how aggressive it is.

"That's really what is unique and exciting about our new discovery," said associate professor Qun "Treen" Huo, the lead investigator on the project. "Our nanoparticles not only seek out a chemical reaction that is specific to prostate cancer, they can also tell us how aggressive the are likely to be, which can give doctors better information to treat their patients."

Current tests can't tell how aggressive the cancer is, which often leads to the gland's removal when other options might be available. For example, a very aggressive type of cancer in a young man may require immediate removal of his prostate gland to save his life. A slow-acting cancer in a young patient may give him more options that are less radical.

And options are good because the prostate is a very important gland. It helps regulate urine flow and is involved in the production of semen in men. The effects of surgical removal of the can range from mild loss of erection and pain on orgasm, to total loss of erection and incontinence.

Huo's work is published in the at http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/10/1/44. The technique is rather simple, Huo said.

She uses gold nanoparticles that detect a specific chemical reaction between a and the human immunoglobulin G (IgG). IgG is an abundant protein circulating in the blood. Research has shown that IgG likes to stick to the surface of the gold nanoparticles to form a protein corona. This corona can be detected by a technique called dynamic light scattering. Huo found that when cancer cells are present, they can "destroy" the IgG in the blood, and this specific interaction is picked up by the . Using this simple test, Huo can determine quantitatively how aggressive the prostate tumors are and the likelihood they will metastasize. The team tested out the technique on human tissue samples.

"We've had already done our study with animal and human blood samples," (J. Nanobiotechnology, http://www.jnanobiotechnology.com/content/9/1/20 ) Huo said. "Now we've confirmed our findings in both animal models and human tissue samples. I am in the process of conducting a validation study with the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute and I am very confidant the technology works."

If all goes well, clinical trials could begin in two to three years, and Huo hopes the diagnostic tool could be routinely used by physicians in as little as five years. The test most likely would be used to supplement those already used to provide doctors with more quantitative and accurate information, which could lead to more treatment options

The system that detects the reaction was discovered in Huo's lab four years ago. It's called "nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) and it is being used by many researchers around the world for everything from detecting cancer in blood to finding lead in water.

"We're looking for funding now to get to the next step," Huo said. The National Science Foundation and the Florida Department of Health Bankhead-Coley Foundation funded a lot of the basic research that went into creating the new technology.

"Ultimately it's about working together to help doctors help patients," Huo said. "That's why I research cancer. I want to help make that happen."

Explore further: New prostate cancer test gives more accurate diagnosis

Related Stories

New prostate cancer test gives more accurate diagnosis

April 6, 2011
In a large multi-center clinical trial, a new PSA test to screen for prostate cancer more accurately identified men with prostate cancer -- particularly the aggressive form of the disease -- and substantially reduced false ...

New drug prevents spread of human prostate cancer cells

April 3, 2012
A new drug developed by Northwestern Medicine scientists prevented human prostate cancer cells from spreading to other tissues without any toxic effects to normal cells or tissues. The drug turns off the "go" switch in the ...

A new screening method for prostate cancer

February 2, 2012
A new study by NYU Langone Medical Center and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shows novel PSA velocity (PSAV) risk count testing may provide a more effective way for physicians to screen men for clinically ...

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.