September 19, 2019

Potential prostate cancer biomarkers

An analysis of more than 140,000 people of European ancestry has identified blood protein biomarkers associated with prostate cancer risk.

Biomarkers for screening and early detection of prostate cancer — the most common and second deadliest cancer in U.S. males — are limited. PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is widely used but is controversial because of its unclear benefit and contribution to prostate cancer overdiagnosis.

Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, and colleagues used genetic tools to search for associations between genetically predicted blood protein levels and prostate cancer risk. They studied 79,194 cases and 61,112 controls of European ancestry from multiple prostate cancer consortia.

They identified a total of 31 proteins associated with prostate cancer risk. Nine of the proteins are encoded by genes located at GWAS-identified prostate cancer risk loci, and several have potential functional roles in prostate cancer development. For 28 of the proteins, gene changes were detected in tumor tissues from patients with prostate cancer included in The Cancer Genome Atlas program.

The large-scale study, reported in Cancer Research, generates a list of promising proteins as potential biomarkers for risk assessment and early detection of prostate cancer.

This research was supported in part by funds from the Anne Potter Wilson endowment and grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA218892, CA160056).