New Blood Test For Prostate Cancer Better Detects The Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Detection of Early Prostate Cancer

A new prostate cancer research has been published by Onconome, Inc., which conducted a breakthrough prostate cancer study at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The study relates to a newly discovered blood protein, ProstaMark(R) EPCA-2 (Early Prostate Cancer Antigen) that could change the way men are screened for prostate cancer, a disease which kills more than 25,000 men each year. The simple to use blood test detected an unprecedented 94 percent of men with prostate cancer and correctly identified 97 percent of men who don't have the disease, according to the Hopkins study.

The study, conducted under the direction of Robert H. Getzenberg PhD, professor of urology and director of research at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was underwritten by a grant from Onconome, and appeared today in the medical journal Urology.

"As a company committed to discovering and developing innovative biomarkers for the early and accurate detection of disease, we appreciate the vast implications of this technology," said Ray Cairncross, Onconome's CEO and Co-Founder. Onconome has exclusive, worldwide rights to the technology.

"The results from the Johns Hopkins University research study demonstrate that the ProstaMark(R) EPCA-2 test is highly specific and sensitive to prostate cancer and could greatly reduce the number of unnecessary prostate biopsies," continued Cairncross. As exclusive licensee, Onconome will focus on optimizing the blood test for routine clinical use.

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A Significant Advancement in Testing

For the past 25 years, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has been the standard in the effort to detect prostate cancer; however, it is not highly specific or sensitive. For example, 80 percent of patients with elevated PSA levels do not have prostate cancer and 15 percent of patients with normal PSA levels do have prostate cancer. Nevertheless, nearly 1.7 million prostate biopsies are performed each year based primarily on results from PSA testing and an estimated 25 million men have had at least one negative biopsy (i.e. no cancer found).

By contrast, the research study showed that the EPCA-2 test is negative in 97 percent of men who do not have prostate cancer and is positive in 94 percent of men with prostate cancer. "The study also shows that EPCA-2 levels are highest in patients with non-organ confined prostate cancer, which is important because cancer that has spread outside of the prostate is much more deadly," said Dr. Getzenberg.

New Advances in Cancer Testing

Onconome is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative biomarkers for the early detection of not only prostate cancer but also other types of cancer, such as colon, as well as other life-threatening human diseases.

"We are also working with Johns Hopkins University on an early detection test for colon cancer" said Cairncross. "Research results indicate that the performance characteristics of the colon cancer test are similar to those achieved in the development of the prostate cancer test."

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