A multi-institutional team of scientists has identified a biological marker of prostate cancer progression that may be useful for urine-based screening. The discovery also suggests potential new targets for treatment.
Using a combination of liquid and gas chromatography along with mass spectrometry, the scientists examined levels of various metabolites in 262 samples. These included 42 tissue samples and 110 matched specimens of plasma and urine from 59 patients who had a biopsy positive for prostate cancer, as well as 51 controls (Sreekumar A et al. Nature. 2009;457:910-914). Based on these results and findings from previous studies suggesting that amino acid metabolism and methylation are enhanced during cancer progression, the researchers identified sarcosine as a promising metabolite. Further interrogations revealed that levels of sarcosine, a product of the methylation of the amino acid glycine, increase as prostate cancer progresses.
Kuehn BM. Promising Marker Found for Deadly Prostate Cancer. JAMA. 2009;301(10):1008. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.299