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DNA Biomarker Blood Test Aids Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Tianying Wu (University of Cincinnati)

Tianying Wu (University of Cincinnati)

Researchers at University of Cincinnati and Harvard University have identified a blood test for a DNA biomarker that bolsters the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test used to screen men for prostate cancer. Their findings appear online in the British Journal of Cancer; paid subscription required.

The study led by Cincinnati molecular epidemiologist Tianying Wu (pictured left) conducted a meta-analysis of existing data related to DNA methylation — a method to regulate the expression of genes — in bodily fluids. The analysis aimed to evaluate a specific cancer biomarker known as GSTP1 as a screening tool for prostate cancer.

Changes in DNA methylation are commonly associated with cancerous tumor growth and can be detected in bodily fluids.  GSTP1’s DNA methylation is particularly associated with prostate cancer and can be found in the blood with high-throughput standardized molecular screening techniques.

Wu and colleagues merged epidemiological and molecular data from 22 studies conducted in the United States and Europe between 2000 and 2009.  The team analyzed more than 2000 human biologic samples, such as blood and urine samples, from 1,635 prostate cancer cases and 573 controls.

The analysis indicated that GSTP1 was a statistically significant biomarker for prostate cancer and could increase the specificity of prostate cancer diagnosis by up to 70 percent, compared to using the PSA test alone. “The PSA test is highly sensitive,” says Wu, “but it cannot differentiate between prostate cancer and benign prostatic conditions” that lead many men to have unnecessary invasive biopsies.

“Measuring GSTPI in plasma or urine is an easy and non-invasive test,” adds Wu. “This biomarker will give physicians reassurance regarding whether to conduct biopsies in selected patients”.

Read more: Univ. Tests Ultrasound to Diagnose Prostate Cancer

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