Amino acid IDs prostate cancer, could be new use for Sanofi ALS drug

A test for serum glutamate, a naturally occurring amino acid in the blood, could be a new and less-invasive way to measure the aggressiveness of prostate cancer, according to new research from Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).

The researchers measured the blood glutamate levels in healthy men, and men with either primary or metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (advanced disease). They found that increased levels of glutamate corresponded with increasing severity of disease.

"Comparing normal, primary, and metastatic prostate cancer tissues, we discovered that glutamate receptor is expressed at very high levels in primary and metastatic tumors, but at very weak or undetectable levels in benign prostate tissues," says Shahriar Koochekpour of RPCI.

Depriving the cells of glutamate could block the growth, migration and invasiveness of prostate cancer, and on the bench, Sanofi's ($SNY) riluzole (Rilutek), killed prostate cancer cells. Riluzole is approved for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Riluzole could reach the clinic for this indication within 12 to 18 months.

The behavior of prostate cancer does differ between white and African-American people, and the researchers spotted differences in levels of glutamate between the groups, which at least go part way to explaining the discrepancy.

In another story, Canadian company Soricimed Biopharma has started a pre-regulatory study of its blood test for the cancer biomarker TRPV6 messenger RNA, for the early detection of a range of cancers including prostate cancer.

- read the press release from RPCI
- see the abstract in Clinical Cancer Research
- check out the press release from Soricimed