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One of the most frustrating situations for men who have undergone treatment for prostate cancer is worrying the disease will return. A new test developed by scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Vigo may help alleviate some of that worry, as the test may detect prostate cancer recurrence early by identifying ultra-low levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen), allowing doctors to respond immediately with treatment.
Standard treatment of prostate cancer includes prostatectomy, radiation therapy, or both. Despite these aggressive approaches, about 25% of treated men experience recurrence of prostate cancer. Scientists are exploring ways to predict whether prostate cancer will return and developing tests to identify cases of impending recurrence.
This new ultra-sensitive test falls into the latter category. The biosensor test is capable of finding biomarkers associated with various diseases, and in the current example the researchers used the test to detect PSA.
In the study, the team was able to detect PSA at levels far superior (nine orders of magnitude more concentrated) to those achieved using an existing test, the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). The new test uses a combination of nanoscopic-sized gold stars and antibodies that attach themselves to and recognize PSA, and then create a coating that signals PSA is present.
If this test is further developed for the market, it should allow clinicians to identify patients at risk of prostate cancer recurrence long before current testing methods allow.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Imperial College London. Super-sensitive tests could detect diseases earlier. 2012 May 28