Prostate cancer study reveals differential molecule

Researchers have determined that a molecule produced by the body's metabolism could be used to differentiate between benign prostate tissue vs. localized and metastatic prostate cancer. They also found that this molecule, known as sarcosine, may be associated with prostate cancer invasiveness and aggressiveness. The findings were supported by the National Cancer Institute's (NCI; Bethesda, Maryland) Early Detection Research Network (EDRN).

"Current biomarkers for detection or progression of prostate cancer are not as precise as we would like. Therefore, a more accurate indicator of cancer is of great interest," said Sudhir Srivastava, PhD, chief of NCI's Cancer Biomarkers Research Group. "Sarcosine and some other select metabolites may be excellent indicators of cancer progression."

To investigate the role of sarcosine in prostate cancer progression, the researchers performed analyses of laboratory-grown cells. They found that sarcosine levels were higher in invasive prostate cancer cells than in benign prostate cells. Moreover, the addition of sarcosine to benign prostate cells caused them to become invasive. By manipulating levels of the enzymes that regulate sarcosine metabolism, the researchers found they were able to control the invasiveness of benign and malignant prostate cells.

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