Compound Can Distinguish Between Benign Tissue and Localized and Metastatic Prostate Cancer
News Feb 12, 2009
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 reported by researchers at the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, Ann Arbor, and were supported by the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Early Detection Research Network (EDRN). The research appears in the Feb. 12, 2009 issue of Nature. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
"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, Ph.D., chief of NCI's Cancer Biomarkers Research Group. "Sarcosine and some other select metabolites may be excellent indicators of cancer progression."
Multiple complex molecular events characterize cancer development and progression. Determining which molecular networks dictate whether cancer will be confined to the prostate or spread to other parts of the body could lead to the identification of critical biomarkers associated with prostate cancer invasion and aggressiveness.
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.
"Components of the sarcosine pathway could serve as novel avenues for therapeutic intervention," said Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., Michigan Center for Translational Pathology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "Our next step will be to confirm these findings in a greater number of specimens and to have our results validated by other laboratories."