New Tool for Guiding Therapy in Prostate Cancer Patients

April 8, 2015

Researchers at the University of Central Florida say they have now come up with a $1 test using gold nanoparticles that can outperform PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening for prostate cancer.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida say they have now come up with a $1 test using gold nanoparticles that can outperform PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening for prostate cancer. The researchers report that cancer biomarkers cling to gold nanoparticles, and may provide more accurate early-stage detection for a number of tumor types. This type of technology may usher in a new era in determining which patients should receive targeted therapies.

Test developer Qun "Treen" Huo, PhD, who is a research scientist at University of Central Florida, said this new technique could reduce the number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies due to PSA screening. Huo's test detects this immune response using gold nanoparticles, and it is rather simple. When a few drops of serum are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the tiny particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together.

Urologic oncologist Inoel Rivera, MD, who collaborated with Huo on the recent pilot studies, said this is a rather simple test and it's cost-effective. Gold nanoparticles are known for their extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. Huo and her team at UCF's NanoScience Technology Center developed a nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) to measure the size of the particles by analyzing the light they throw off. The size of the particles reveals whether a patient has prostate cancer and how advanced it may be.

The researchers noted that this technology is very appealing for a number of reasons, including cost. They report that even though the test uses gold, it is inexpensive. A small bottle of nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250 and contains enough for about 2,500 tests. Huo said the test should be available for clinicians to use in their offices within the next 24 to 36 months. Early detection can help lead to improved outcomes by helping to better guide treatment decisions. After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second-leading killer cancer among men, with more than 240,000 new diagnoses and 28,000 deaths every year.

Pilot studies have demonstrated this technique is significantly more exact than PSA screening. The test determines with 90% to 95% confidence that the result is not a false-positive, according to the researchers. The results of the pilot studies were published in the March 2015 issue of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Dr. Huo is scheduled to present her findings in June at the TechConnect World Innovation Summit & Expo in suburban Washington, DC. Huo said she and her team hope to develop an array of assays for early detection and diagnosis of all major cancer types.

 

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