Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers discover metabolite linked to aggressive prostate cancer

Finding could lead to test to help guide treatment decisions

Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a panel of small molecules, or metabolites, that appear to indicate aggressive prostate cancer.

The finding could lead to a simple test that would help doctors determine which prostate cancers are slow-growing and which require immediate, aggressive treatment.

Results of the study appear in the Feb. 12 issue of Nature.

"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.

The researchers looked at 1,126 metabolites across 262 samples of tissue, blood or urine associated with benign prostate tissue, early stage prostate cancer and advanced, or metastatic, prostate cancer. They mapped the alterations in metabolites and identified about 10 that were present more often in prostate cancer than in the benign cells and were present most often in the advanced cancer samples.

"When we're looking at metabolites, we're looking several steps beyond genes and proteins. It allows us to look very deeply at some of the functions of the cells and the biochemistry that occurs during cancer development," says Chinnaiyan, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

One metabolite in particular, sarcosine, appeared to be one of the strongest indicators of advanced disease. Levels of sarcosine, an amino acid, were elevated in 79 percent of the metastatic prostate cancer samples and in 42 percent of the early stage cancer samples. Sarcosine was not found at all in the cancer-free samples.

In the study, sarcosine was a better indicator of advancing disease than the traditional prostate specific antigen, or PSA, test that is currently used to monitor or screen for prostate cancer. Sarcosine was detected in the urine, which has researchers hopeful that a simple urine test could be used.

In addition, the researchers found that sarcosine is involved in the same pathways that are linked to cancer invasiveness. This suggests sarcosine as a potential target for future drug development.

"This research gets at characterizing the chemical complexity of a sample of blood. In the future, this science will drive how doctors make treatment recommendations for their patients," says study author Christopher Beecher, Ph.D., professor of pathology at the U-M Medical School.

Results are preliminary at this point and will need years of further testing and development before this technology would be available for patients.

Prostate cancer statistics: 186,320 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 28,660 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society

Additional authors: From the University of Michigan: Arun Sreekumar, Laila M. Poisson, Thekkelnaycke M. Rajendiran, Amjad P. Khan, Qi Cao, Jindan Yu, Bharathi Laxman, Rohit Mehra, Robert J. Lonigro, Yong Li, Mukesh K. Nyati, Aarif Ahsan, Shanker Kalyana-Sundaram, Bo Han, Xuhong Cao, Jaemun Byun, Gilbert S. Omenn, Subramaniam Pennathur, John T. Wei and Sooryanarayana Varambally. From Metabolon Inc.: Danny C. Alexander, Alvin Berger and Jeffrey R. Shuster. From Penn State University: Debashis Ghosh.

Funding: National Cancer Institute Early Detection Research Network, National Institutes of Health, an MTTC grant, the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Disclosure: The University of Michigan has exclusively licensed all pending patents covering this technology to Metabolon, a company with expertise in discovering biomarkers using metabolomics. Beecher, Alexander, Shuster and Chinnaiyan own equity in Metabolon and Chinnaiyan serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Beecher is a previous employee of Metabolon.

Reference: Nature, Vol. 457, No. 7231, pp. 910-915, Metabolomic profiles delineate potential role for sarcosine in prostate cancer progression


U-M Cancer AnswerLine, 800-865-1125
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center,
Michigan Center for Translational Pathology,

Nicole Fawcett | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>