Biomarker discovery is a difficult field to navigate, but a team of scientists from EVMS and the University of Toronto has made a significant breakthrough in the area of advanced prostate cancer detection.  

This month their study, “Targeted Proteomics Identifies Liquid-Biopsy Signatures for Extracapsular Prostate Cancer” was published in the journal Nature Communications.

In the study, they identified a liquid-biopsy biomarker for aggressive prostate cancer. It’s the first liquid biomarker of its kind.

The team worked with Urology of Virginia to collect urine samples taken after a digital rectal exam. They found the urine contained prostatic fluids that could identify whether a man had a metastatic form of prostate cancer. 

The discovery could play a vital role in treatment. “We want to be able to identify advanced disease prior to surgery,” says O. John Semmes, PhD, Director of the Leroy T. Canoles Jr. Cancer Research Center and Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology. “If it has grown beyond the prostate, more aggressive treatment options are warranted.” 

“What Dr. Semmes and his team have discovered will make a major impact on prostate cancer research, and we are very proud of their achievements,” says Jerry Nadler, MD, the Harry H. Mansbach Chair in Internal Medicine, Vice Dean of Research and Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine. “Innovative cancer research like this is essential for our mission as a medical school. It not only advances basic knowledge, but also helps achieve better quality of treatment.”

The next step in the study is to optimize assay performance and test for clinical effectiveness. It could be another five years before the biomarker is widely used in clinical environments.