RNA regulates the production of proteins based on genetic material, but most RNA is non-coding. Researchers at two universities in Germany found that non-coding RNA may serve as biomarkers for prostate cancer. Photo by Andrii Vodolazhskyi/Shutterstock
MUNICH, Germany, March 14 (UPI) -- A group of biomarkers found in urine may lead to a non-invasive, highly accurate test for prostate cancer, according to new research in Germany.
Non-coding RNA found in urine was shown to indicate prostate cancer with greater specificity and accuracy than PSA tests, researchers reported at the European Association of Urology's annual meeting in Munich.
Standard testing for prostate cancer, as well as monitoring the disease, includes measuring a protein called prostate specific antigen, or PSA, levels in the blood. Regular PSA tests are recommended for most men in the United States starting at age 50, though for some groups testing is suggested starting at 40 or 45, according to the National Institute of Cancer.
"This is early work, but it is already showing results," Dr. Manfred Wirth, a professor at the University of Dresden, said in a press release. "This is a new approach to developing diagnostic tests, and comes from applying real basic science to a practical clinical problem. Given that our initial results show a high specificity for prostate cancer in urine tests, the prospects are good that we will be able to translate this into a better test for prostate cancer."
For the study, the researchers analyzed biopsy samples from 64 prostate cancer patients, analyzing 200 million RNA sequences from each sample. RNA cancer biomarkers were then validated the presence of 2,000 genes that appear in cancer patients, but not healthy controls, verifying them in 256 samples as being detectable in urine.
The researchers said they plan to develop a urine test based on the biomarkers, which they anticipate could make it much easier for patients to be screened for prostate cancer, or for their doctors to monitor cancer.
"We have several good candidate biomarkers, however we are aiming to design a test which utilizes a combination of biomarkers," Wirth said. "This will give significantly better specificity than existing tests. Our work on RNAs is allowing us to design a completely new kind of prostate cancer test."