Surrey's prostate cancer breakthrough
Scientists at the University of Surrey have made a major breakthrough in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
SCIENTISTS AT THE University of Surrey have made a major breakthrough in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer with the development of a reliable urine test, allowing faster, easier diagnosis that could save lives and offer the potential for huge cost savings. The research was enabled by a close partnership between the University of Surrey and the Prostate Project charity.
A three-year study, published in the US journal Clinical Cancer Research, shows that a protein called Engrailed-2 (EN2) is made by prostate cancers and secreted into urine, where it can be easily detected using the new test. The process is simple, quick and has the potential to be used in GP surgeries.
EN2 is an important protein in the development of the human embryo and, like many similar 'early life' proteins, its production is 'switched off' at birth - but analysis of urine samples from 288 patients by the team at the University of Surrey found that EN2 is switched back on in prostate cancer, which kills over 10,000 men each year in the UK alone.
"Reliable and accurate"
"The new EN2 test has been proven to be more reliable and accurate than existing tests," said Professor Hardev Pandha, The Prostate Project Chair of Urological Oncology at the University of Surrey's Postgraduate Medical School. "In this study we showed that the new test was twice as good at finding prostate cancer as the standard PSA test. Only rarely did we find EN2 in the urine of men who were cancer free so, if we find EN2 we can be reasonably sure that a man has prostate cancer."
"Unlike the development of drug treatments, the time taken to verify the potential of EN2 in the diagnosis of prostate cancer is relatively modest," said co-researcher Dr Richard Morgan, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Oncology (also at the Postgraduate Medical School). "We are preparing several large studies in the UK and in the US, and although the EN2 test is not yet available several companies have expressed interest in taking it forward."
Scientist, medical doctor and TV presenter Professor Robert Winston, who champions public engagement with science, said: “This is an exciting discovery which advances the early detection of this cancer. It also shows just how vital the research carried out in universities such as Surrey really is in helping to find faster, better solutions to some of the healthcare challenges that face us all."
Colin Stokes, Chairman of the Prostate Project, said: "We are all elated at this development. Huge credit must go to Professor Pandha, Dr Morgan and their outstanding team of researchers at the University of Surrey. I would like to thank everyone who has given their time and money so generously to our charity, which has helped make today’s announcement possible. Some individuals and companies have been outstandingly generous. The charity is run entirely by volunteers and 98% of all the funds we raise for research goes to the work at the University of Surrey. This has paid off handsomely. All our work over the last seven years has been geared to days like today, when we really do give men a better chance of beating prostate cancer."
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