Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Prostate Cancer Marker In Urine Indicates Whether Cancer Is Spreading

Date:
February 12, 2009
Source:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Summary:
Researchers have identified a new biological marker present in the urine of patients with prostate cancer that indicates whether the cancer is progressing and spreading. Scientists identified 10 metabolites that become more abundant in prostate cells as cancer progresses. Their studies showed that one of these chemicals, sarcosine, helps prostate cancer cells invade surrounding tissue.

Histological slide showing prostate cancer.
Credit: Otis Brawley / Courtesy of National Cancer Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have identified a new biological marker present in the urine of patients with prostate cancer that indicates whether the cancer is progressing and spreading.

Related Articles


In experiments reported in the journal Nature, the scientists identified 10 metabolites that become more abundant in prostate cells as cancer progresses. Their studies showed that one of these chemicals, sarcosine, helps prostate cancer cells invade surrounding tissue.

"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.

HHMI investigator Arul Chinnaiyan and colleagues at the University of Michigan showed that as prostate cancer develops and progresses, sarcosine levels increase in both tumor cells and urine samples, suggesting that measurements of the metabolite could aid in non-invasively diagnosing the disease. Researchers might also be able to inhibit prostate cancer's spread by designing drugs that manipulate the sarcosine pathway.

The study is the first to analyze the levels of more than 1,000 different metabolites in human tumors. Scientists know that cells undergo complex changes as cancer develops and progresses to metastatic disease. Chinnaiyan's lab, which has extensively analyzed how genes and proteins in prostate cancer cells reflect these changes, thought that profiling cells' metabolites would offer an even more "holistic picture of the molecular alterations that occur," he said.

"This allows us to have more of a systems perspective of cancer development," he noted. "We are also looking at gene and protein markers, for therapeutic consideration, biomarker consideration, and just understanding the biology. We are not sure yet how it's going to sort out, so we're being non-discriminatory with what types of technologies we use."

In the experiments reported in Nature, the scientists used mass spectrometry, a technique that identifies chemicals based on the size and electrical charge of their components, to compare the levels of 1,126 metabolites in healthy prostate tissue, clinically localized prostate cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer. Sixty metabolites were present in tumor cells, but not in benign tissue. Of these, there were about 10 molecules whose levels increased dramatically during cancer progression. "This is proof-of-principle that we can identify metabolites, or panels of metabolites, that might be correlated with aggressive prostate cancer versus slower-growing prostate cancer," Chinnaiyan said.

Having demonstrated that "metabolomic" profiles change in predictable ways as cancer progresses, the group began more focused analyses. "We began to mine the data to look for metabolites that might serve as biomarkers or as therapeutic targets," Chinnaiyan explained. They chose to focus on sarcosine because it was elevated in clinically localized disease and very highly elevated in metastatic cancer.

They confirmed these dramatic increases in a new set of tissue samples, and also found that there was more sarcosine in the urine of patients with prostate cancer than in healthy individuals.

The team went on to test how sarcosine affected the behavior of cancer cells grown in the laboratory. Adding the chemical to prostate cells or manipulating cells' biochemical pathways so they produced more sarcosine on their own caused benign prostate cells to become cancerous and invasive. Conversely, shutting down sarcosine production in cancer cells blocked invasion.

"This really told us that sarcosine is involved biologically in some of the processes of a cancer cell," Chinnaiyan said. The results suggest that drugs that alter sarcosine metabolism might be useful in treating prostate cancer, but Chinnaiyan cautions that these Petri-dish findings still need further validation in animal models.

An important next step, he says, will be to do similar experiments on the other nine potential biomarkers they identified in this study. For reliable diagnosis of aggressive disease, he said, "we need to have panels, not just rely on a single metabolite."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sreekumar, A. et al. Metabolomic profiles delineate potential role for sarcosine in prostate cancer progression. Nature, February 12, 2009; Vol. 457, No. 7231, pp. 910-915

Cite This Page:

Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "New Prostate Cancer Marker In Urine Indicates Whether Cancer Is Spreading." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211161844.htm>.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. (2009, February 12). New Prostate Cancer Marker In Urine Indicates Whether Cancer Is Spreading. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211161844.htm
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "New Prostate Cancer Marker In Urine Indicates Whether Cancer Is Spreading." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211161844.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins