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Sensitive and specific biomarker for early detection of prostate cancer identified

CHICAGO -- Scientists at a Maryland-based pharmaceutical company have preliminary evidence showing that a protein in the blood may prove to be a biomarker that is more sensitive and specific than current methods of early detection for prostate cancer.

If they're right, the protein an enzyme called human aspartyl (asparaginyl) beta-hydroxylase, or HAAH could ultimately help reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies for prostate cancer and may identify cancer at an earlier stage when treatment would have a higher likelihood of success.

Prostate cancer is expected to account for more than 234,000 new cases and about 27,000 deaths in the United States in 2006. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men over 50 be screened annually with two standard tests: the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, which measures a protein in the blood, and the digital rectal exam, or DRE, which entails a physical exam the prostate.

Yet the PSA and DRE can be inexact and, at times, not specific or sensitive to cancer. High PSA levels are found in both cancerous and healthy tissue, particularly in benign prostate disease, resulting in significant numbers of false positive cases. The DRE, based on physician touch and skill, relies on subjective judgment. As a result, a man who has prostate cancer can have both a normal PSA and DRE. Conversely, an individual with a high PSA and an abnormal DRE could be cancer-free.

"There is a great need for a test that increases the sensitivity and specificity of those two other tests for prostate cancer," said Stephen Keith, M.D., M.S.P.H., president and chief operating officer of Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Gaithersburg, MD.

Results were presented at the first meeting on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development, organized by the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Currently, if an individual has a high PSA and positive DRE, the recommendation is that he has a biop
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Contact: Warren Froelich
froelich@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
13-Sep-2006


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