New Ground in Cancer Detection -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

New Ground in Cancer Detection


ERG is one of the common biologically
relevant markers in prostate cancer;
©NCI Visuals Online

“We are excited about the potential of streamlining the detection of prostate cancer in clinical specimens,” said Doctor Shiv Srivastava, scientific director at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR). “This protein, ERG, is one of the common biologically relevant markers in prostate cancer and our protein-based test represents an incremental advance in the right directions to resolve some of the key issues faced in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

The study provides first insights into how and where ERG protein is present in prostate tissues by developing a comprehensive map of whole-mount prostate sections of more than 130 patients. The team established the selective presence of ERG in malignant cells and the virtual absence of ERG in normal cells. CPDR researchers have actively studied biology, biomarker and therapeutic utility of ERG alterations in prostate cancer since their original discovery of the frequent ERG overexpression in nearly two-thirds of all prostate cancer patients more than five years ago. Prostate cancer researchers have established that activation of the ERG gene and other related genes represent common genomic defects in prostate cancer and continued evaluation of these genes have promising potential in improving diagnosis and/or treatment of prostate cancer.

“This notable advancement in the field has been possible only because this type of assay is routinely used in pathology settings. We anticipate this strategy will open new opportunities in clinical evaluation of prostate cancer worldwide,” said Albert Dobi, co-author of the paper.

This past spring, the American Cancer Society rewrote their recommendations regarding PSA screening for prostate cancer. “Blood-PSA protein assay, the current screening method, has no specificity for prostate tumour cells, as similar amounts of PSA is made in normal and tumour cells,” said Srivastava. “There are more cells overall in the prostate gland with a tumour, which is reflected in higher PSA in blood. However, we also detect high PSA during infection in the prostate or benign enlargement of the gland. The lack of cancer specificity found in PSA-based screening then leads to many associated problems and unnecessary follow-up testing.” While this assay is applicable in tissue testing, investigators are looking into more specific diagnostic assays using urine and blood.; Source: Uniformed Services University