Identification of biomarkers for prostate cancer

Identification of biomarkers for prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer (PCa) now ranks second as the most common cancer in males in Western Countries, but PCa-specific death occurs only in about 15% of individuals diagnosed being affected by this tumour type. Only aggressive, metastatic PCa kills the patient. As a consequence, some people die of PCa, while many more eventually die with PCa, but for other reasons.

PCa is a very elusive disease. At the moment, discrimination between indolent and aggressive PCa is an open issue, and the actual scenario raises questions regarding over-diagnosis and overtreatment of indolent disease. Radical prostatectomy bear disturbing complications, such as impotence and urinary dysfunction, and is an expensive option for the health systems. Therefore, a method to discriminate aggressive from indolent disease is urgently needed, with the aim to set up a better clinical managing of PCa: a simpler, less aggressive treatment for indolent PCa, while allowing resources to be concentrated on life-threatening, aggressive disease.

Our research is aimed at unraveling the major molecular steps required for onset and progression of PCa. Our recent findings have demonstrated that molecular diagnosis and discrimination of PCa in animal models and humans is indeed possible. We have identified a set of biomarkers and a gene signature capable to achieve such result. Our research provide means for a better clinical managing of the disease. Validation and transferring of our panel of biomarkers and discoveries to the clinics would allow to move from a single gene or marker as diagnostic (or prognostic) factor to a multi-parametric and effective method, which also provides novel potential therapeutic targets for the disease.

In our recent studies, we have also been able to show that the panel of biomarkers discovered is capable to discriminate PCa responding to chemoprevention with Green Tea Catechins, from those which do not, thus paving the way for prediction of response to natural or synthetic drugs and personalized molecular medicine.

These studies are carried on in collaboration with important SMEs in USA, Japan and Europe. The gene signature identified for molecular diagnosis and prognosis can be obtained together with conventional pathology examination virtually on the same tissue specimen by taking advantage of an innovative medical tool for biopsy developed in collaboration with Epitome Inc. (USA) ( Our findings and experimental approaches are also being extended to a number of other tumour types for which preliminary data supports the efficacy of the set of biomarkers disclosed for PCa.