Researchers develop new test for prostate cancer

19 March 2019 (Last Updated March 20th, 2019 10:32)

An international research team led by University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland has developed epiCaPture, a new test that detects prostate cancer using urine samples.

Researchers develop new test for prostate cancer
New urine test offers hope for prostate cancer detection. Credit: © Irish Cancer Society.

An international research team led by University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland has developed epiCaPture, a new test that detects prostate cancer using urine samples.

The research has been supported by the Irish Cancer Society.

Approximately 3,500 men in Ireland are affected by prostate cancer each year. One in three of these patients is diagnosed with aggressive cancer, which requires immediate treatment.

The researchers analysed urine samples from nearly 500 men to develop the new test. It was observed that nearly 90% of the patients with aggressive prostate cancer have DNA changes that could be identified in urine.

Furthermore, the team found that these DNA changes were not present in healthy men and those with the non-aggressive disease.

“Our research could contribute to a new, more accurate test to help catch aggressive prostate cancer and save lives from this disease.”

UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science cell biology and genetics assistant Professor Dr Antoinette Perry said: “Prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in Ireland so early detection is vital to catch the disease before it spreads.  Unfortunately, the tests we have to detect prostate cancer are not entirely accurate.

“Our research, funded with the support of the Irish Cancer Society and others, is addressing this problem by developing new ways to catch aggressive, potentially lethal prostate cancer from a simple urine test.”

When assessed, the new test is said to have demonstrated 70% more specificity for prostate cancer, when compared to the blood test that is currently used.

The researchers said that further validation of epiCaPture could enable accurate identification of patients who would require additional invasive tests, in turn avoiding the therapies that are linked to long-term side effects.

In addition, the team noted that the test could also help in identifying aggressive prostate cancer early.

Dr Perry added: “If we can replicate these findings, our research could contribute to a new, more accurate test to help catch aggressive prostate cancer and save lives from this disease.”

Dr Perry is currently working with UCD’s technology transfer team at NovaUCD to advance the new test into the marketing phase.

The researcher recently secured funding to validate the epiCaPture technology for clinical use in the future.