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Promising experimental liquid biopsy for prostate cancer finds urine preferable to blood

June 18, 2020

Male patient smiling

Scientists in Russia may have found a new, more effective and less invasive way to detect prostate cancer, the second-most common cancer in men with nearly 1.3 million new cases and more than 350,000 deaths in 2018.

The new test, a urine-based liquid biopsy, is more specific than the current PSA blood test, and presents neither of the complications of tissue biopsy, the scientists from Sechenov University say in a news release. The PSA blood test can produce false positives when prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels rise due to other diseases; the tissue biopsy can cause local bleeding and infection. Blood-based liquid biopsies that have been investigated are challenging because of the low levels of cancer cells in the blood, making a large volume of blood necessary for the test.

“So scientists suggested an alternative that is a liquid urine biopsy,” the university said. “The prostate gland is closely connected with the urethra, and cancer cells are washed out during urination.”

Microfluidics filter sort cells in urine samples

The urine-based biopsy employs a polymer microfluidic chip with a thin spiral-shaped channel. The chip separates larger cancer cells from smaller and lighter cells using centrifugal force.

During pilot experiments, the chip isolated from 80% to 90% of cancer cells in a saline solution. Tests with the urine samples detected the disease in 12 out of 14 patients with cancer and indicated its absence in 11 out of 14 healthy volunteers, the university reported.

“Now we are trying to optimise the method to improve its efficacy, specificity and sensitivity while the technology itself is going through the patent process,” said Alexey Rzhevskiy, research associate in the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Sechenov University.

The research is detailed in the Journal Cancers and concludes that the technique paves the way “for inexpensive rapid, non-invasive diagnosis, as well as screening and monitoring therapeutic outcomes of prostate cancer and other urology cancers.”

As we’ve blogged in the past, liquid biopsy is a promising area of medical research, employing a range of human biofluids to detect signs of cancer for diagnosis, treatment assessment and prognosis.

Human biofluids in growing demand

iSpecimen has been playing a key role in liquid biopsy development by providing researchers with the human biofluids they need to conduct their work. Whether researchers need biofluids from patients with specific medical histories, with specific laboratory test results, or from healthy/normal donors, iSpecimen can help. Biofluids are available across a range of specimen types—and customized to meet specific processing and quick-turnaround delivery requirements. Biofluids offered include (but are not limited to): whole blood, urine, plasma (including double-spun), stool, serum, CSF, buffy coat, saliva, nasal, cheek, cervical, and other swabbed material. View full capabilities and case studies here.

We’re committed to supplying researchers with the human biospecimens they need to quickly and cost-effectively advance their work, and to helping our supplier partners efficiently distribute their specimens to the researchers who need them.

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