Researchers have developed the test by using light energy to measure the level of citrate in fluid samples from the prostate gland. The technique could provide the basis of a rapid means of detecting prostate cancer in the future. Almost a quarter of male cancers in the UK are diagnosed as prostate cancer and more than 10,000 men die from the disease each year.
Scientists, led by Prof David Parker from Durham University's Chemistry Department, have worked with experts from the University of Maryland, USA to develop the technique that measures the wavelength of light as it is shone through diluted samples of body fluids.
The research team, funded by the North East Proof of Concept Fund and the EPSRC, believe that the technique which can measure, with speed and accuracy, how citrate levels fall in the prostate gland as cancer develops, could also find use for the diagnosis of other medical conditions, associated with poor kidney function.
Prof Parker said: "Citrate provides a significant biomarker for disease that may provide a reliable method for screening and detecting prostate cancer, and for the monitoring of people with the disease. This technique could form the basis of a simple screening procedure for prostate cancer that could be used in outpatient departments at local hospitals."
His team have shone light into over 100 different chemical structures to see how they function and respond to the presence of certain important bioactive species. They have looked particularly closely at how citrate and lactate bind to luminescent structures within fluids. Citrate and lactate are vital for our bodies' metabolism for normal function. Citrate provides energy for cells and the amount found in the prostate varies considerably due to an enzyme called m-aconitase which transforms it. This enzyme is very sensitive to zinc and, in prostate cancer sufferers, zinc levels are depressed and the enzyme switches on again.
Prof Leslie Costello from the University of Maryland said: "Citrate is formed in cell metabolism processes which alter as cancers grow. The analysis of the citrate concentration of prostatic fluid can provide an accurate way to screen and diagnose prostate cancer. Since citrate concentrations decrease markedly early in malignancy, this technique makes it possible to analyse what's happening quickly in the early and treatable stage of prostate cancer. It shows much promise as a clinical tool."
The new test requires only a microlitre of fluid and the sample can be easily measured in an optical instrument. Using samples from male volunteers, the researchers have developed a portable instrument that can give results in 3 minutes.
The team's challenge has been how to accurately measure changes in the amount of citrate or lactate in fluid samples using the technique. The early results are promising and the team intends to look at the analysis of other body fluids. A possible way forward is to examine the citrate levels in seminal fluid samples, which are made up of 50% prostate fluid.
The University has launched a spin-out company called FScan Ltd to develop the technique and to seek commercial backing. The team has looked at 20 samples so far and verified the analysis in every case. The next stage is to work with a local hospital and examine samples from 200 volunteers to see whether the first Durham results correlate.
Prof Parker says: "It's been a complex process to develop the technique but we're very optimistic about it. Ultimately, this could provide an accurate method of screening for prostate cancer in men that could be carried out in 3-minutes once a biopsy has been obtained from the patient at a hospital outpatient department."
The discovery follows the invention in 2006 by Durham University Professor Douglas Newton of a Urine Flow Meter. The UFlow Meter helps men to assess if they have a restricted rate of urine flow - one of the warning signs of prostate problems.
The establishment of FScan Ltd is part of the University's aim to enhance the exploitation of the Intellectual Property generated by high quality research activities.
Tim Hammond, Head of Technology Transfer at Durham University, said: '"We quickly realised the potential of this research and have worked closely with Professor Parker and his team to secure initial proof of concept funding through NorthStar Equity Investors and the North East Proof of Concept Fund and to establish FScan Limited as the vehicle to validate and commercialise the technology."
Process for testing:
Sample of prostatic fluid taken from patient in hospital using local anaesthetic
200 fold dilution of 1 microlitre of sample with a buffer solution into pre-coated disposable cuvettes.
Optical spectroscopy on the sample, using a versatile bench top instrument with easy to use software.
Reading of results after 3 min measurement cycle directly reading out actual citrate concentration.
The sample is taken from the prostate gland – this is part of the biopsy procedure during clinical analysis in urology.
Carl Stiansen | EurekAlert!
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences