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Metabolomics Pans Out, Identifies Potential Prostate Cancer Marker

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

New research has identified a novel marker for prostate cancer whose expression is directly dependent on the severity of the disease and can be detected non-invasively in urine. In addition to its potential as a screening test, the marker, sarcosine, could be a target for the development of new prostate cancer therapies

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Cancer Metabolism Approach Uncovers Drug Target, Biomarker

Scientists at Agios Pharmaceuticals have shown that a mutated metabolic enzyme common to many brain cancers acts like an oncogene, reversing the previously held belief that it was not involved in cancer-causing activity. They also linked the mutation, IDH1, to a potential predictive biomarker for glioma patients. Their work helps validate a drug discovery apporach based on the study of proliferating cancer cell metabolism.

Using MicroRNAs for Cancer Detection

It's very much early days for researchers and drug developers trying to tap the potential of microRNAs, the small snippets of nucleotides once considered genomic junk. But miRNAs may have a direct use as cancer biomarkers--a diagnostic application where the complex issue of correlating expression and protein function is less daunting. In a paper in PNAS this summer, researchers provide proof of concept for the use of miRNAs as blood-based markers for cancer detection.

Please Do Squeeze the Tumor Cell

A team at UCLA used nanomechanics to show that tumor cells are significantly more elastic than normal cells, suggesting that stiffness can accurately distinguish them from normal cells. The technique could be readily adopted in pathology labs to improve the accuracy of traditional cytology analysis using standard sample preparation and processing. Moreover, there may be an immediate opportunity to use it to diagnose mesothelioma, which is not now possible using visual analysis.


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