The prostate is a walnut-shaped male organ responsible for secreting prostatic fluid, which is an important component of seminal fluid. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 31,620 men will die from prostate cancer and approximately 171,650 new cases will be diagnosed.

Cancer screening is a critical part of early detection; generally, the earlier a cancer is found, the better the prognosis. The most common screening test for prostate cancer is a blood test that measures the amount of a biomarker called prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. However, the PSA blood test is not always accurate, which can result in negative effects on quality of life in men who may have been over-treated for a cancer that was over-diagnosed.

In particular, it does not clearly discriminate between prostate cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia, a benign, non-cancerous condition that can also cause a rise in PSA levels. A false positive cancer diagnosis for a patient with benign prostate hyperplasia can result in undue patient concern and additional tests and clinical procedures that are not needed. Therefore, there is a significant need for new biomarkers for prostate cancer that are accurate and easily detectable in the blood or other body fluid, eliminating the need for a biopsy. Additionally, an ideal biomarker would also differentiate between low- and high-risk cancers, allowing clinicians to better recommend appropriate treatments.

Recent Research Using Lifeline® Normal Human Prostate Epithelial Cells

To fill the unmet need for new and better prostate cancer biomarkers, Narain and colleagues performed three studies, compiled in a thesis work from 2018. In their first study, they describe their findings from a 2016 paper, which identified Filamin A (FLNA) and Filamin B (FLNB) (two actin-binding proteins) as potential plasma biomarkers for prostate cancer. Additional details of this study can be found here on our blog.

In their second study, the authors followed up on their original study and set out to develop assays for detecting FLNA, FLNB, and Keratin 19 (KRT19), another potential biomarker, with the goal of applying these tests in combination with the PSA test to improve prostate cancer screening and diagnosis. For FLNA and FLNB, the authors developed a screening test of human sera using ELISA (an ELISA kit for KRT19 was commercially available); in addition, the authors developed an enrichment and mass spectrometry assay for FLNA.

Following validation, the authors next tested the predictive power of their assays using sera from patients with prostate cancer. They found that the biomarker panel of FLNA, FLNB, age, and PSA levels better predicted whether a patient had prostate cancer, compared with PSA alone. In addition, FLNB, age, and PSA better predicted whether a patient had higher (³ 7) or lower (£ 6) Gleason scores (used to evaluate the aggressiveness of a cancer), compared with PSA alone. Finally, the group found that consideration of FLNA, KRT19, and age helped classify patient samples into those that were benign prostate hyperplasia and those that were cancer. The results of this study illustrated that this new biomarker panel for prostate cancer could improve the accuracy of prostate cancer screening.

In their third study, the research group set out to further test the power of FLNA levels, age, and prostate volume to differentiate between benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer using 777 patient samples. Their results demonstrated that compared with PSA testing alone, the combined power of their panel of FLNA levels, age, and prostate volume was able to better clinically distinguish between those with benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer (with a Gleason score between 5 and 7). Together, the results of this study illustrated that the application of new prostate cancer biomarkers can improve the accuracy of the current screening process, with the goal of improving prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment plans.

Interested in Lifeline® prostate cells? Check out our catalog of prostate and male reproductive cell systems, which includes:

Learn more about how researchers are using Lifeline® cells by visiting us here on the blog every other week. If you have used Lifeline® products in your work, let us know and your study could be featured next!