Bacteriophage Provides Promise in Detecting Prostate Cancer

Most prostate cancers are slow­-growing and do not behave like a cancer at all. This is particularly so for the very common Gleason 6 “cancer” which which lacks the hallmarks of a cancer. This knowledge has lead some doctors to warn against routine prostate cancer screenings and automatic treatment. However, for men with the less common aggressive high­-grade form of the disease, early detection may be the key to their survival. Researchers in the United States may have found a way to use bacterial viruses to help sort this out.

Bacteriophage, which is harmless to humans, has a natural tendency to bond with cancer cells and detect PSMA, a prostate cancer flag for aggressive prostate cancer. However, the use of bacteriophages to detect prostate cancer was not effective initially due to the non­specific adhesion between the phage and certain cell surface receptors.

Researchers in the United States then found that wrapping the bacteriophage with the polymer PEG, it created a sphere around the phage to stop non­specific cell adhesion. This made detecting cells that that the bacteriophage had bonded to much easier and more accurate.

The goal is to create a bio­marker that will allow doctors to detect the presence of aggressive prostate cancers without invasive tests. If successful, the modified bacteriophage will link to cancer bio­markers in a simple blood test and allow doctors to distinguish between aggressive, high­grade prostate cancers which need treatment and, the Gleason 6 “cancer” which does not need treatment.

Posted in: Prostate Cancer News

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