Method could facilitate at-home urine tests.
Early screening for prostate cancer could become as easy for men as personal pregnancy testing is for women, thanks to UC Irvine research published today (May 22) in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
After more than a decade of work, UC Irvine chemists have created a way to clearly identify clinically usable markers for prostate cancer in urine, meaning that the disease could be detected far sooner, with greater accuracy and at dramatically lower cost. The same technology could potentially be used for bladder and multiple myeloma cancers, which also shed identifiable markers in urine.
“Our goal is a device the size of a home pregnancy test priced around $10. You would buy it at the drugstore or the grocery store and test yourself,” said the study’s corresponding author, Reginald Penner, UC Irvine Chancellor’s Professor of chemistry. “We’re on the verge of a very important breakthrough in a new era of personal health management.”
About 240,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and 29,000 are expected to die of it in 2013. But current, widely utilized testing does not always catch the disease in its early stages, often yields false positives and can lead to unnecessary, risky treatments.
A recent report concluded that the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test can be more harmful than beneficial, although it remains important for detecting recurring prostate cancer. The UC Irvine researchers used a different biomarker, PSMA, and plan to test others to pinpoint if a cancer is growing aggressively or not.
“A big problem is that the approach used now does not catch cancer soon enough,” said co-author Gregory Weiss, a UC Irvine biochemist. “We want this to be a disruptive technology that will change how we save lives and that will bring down health care costs drastically.”