Two new biomarkers for prostate cancer may improve faulty PSA tests

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is not perfect as a biomarker for prostate cancer. There are too many false positives for comfort, leading in some cases to unnecessary, expensive and invasive tests and treatments. So, researchers at Johns Hopkins are looking for ways to improve on the PSA test.

The group thinks it has found two promising biomarker candidates: PCA3 and gene fusion. PCA3 measures a gene that is overexpressed in prostate cancer cells. A simple urine test can detect the PCA3 gene. The lower the level of PCA3, the less likely prostate cancer is there, since this gene is not produced, or produced only a little by noncancerous cells.

Gene fusion is, as the name suggests, a hybrid between two previously separated genes. Many prostate cancer patients have gene fusions of the ERG and TMPRSS2 genes. Together, they create a new gene may promote development of aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Gene fusions are now being detected in urine, but more research is needed before they can move into mainstream and fulfill their promise as new biomarkers for prostate cancer.

- read more at Johns Hopkins

Special Report: Five Prostate Cancer Diagnostics to Watch

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