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Blood-Based Biomarkers of Prostate Cancer Identified

Small RNAs distinguish men with prostate cancer from healthy men

TUESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Blood levels of small RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs) can distinguish men with prostate cancer from healthy men, according to a study in the July 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Patrick S. Mitchell from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues isolated 18- to 24-nucleotide miRNAs from the plasma of a healthy blood donor, in mice bearing human prostate cancer cells, and from 25 men with metastatic prostate cancer and 25 matched controls. MiRNAs are regulatory molecules that modulate the activity of specific messenger RNA targets, the authors note.

The researchers found that the miRNAs from the healthy donor were present in a very stable form that prevented them from degradation. In the mice, prostate cancer miRNAs were present in the circulation, could be measured in the plasma and were able to distinguish mice bearing tumors from controls. Serum levels of an miRNA expressed in prostate cancer (miR-141) could distinguish men with prostate cancer from matched controls.

"Our results establish the measurement of tumor-derived miRNAs in serum or plasma as an important approach for the blood-based detection of human cancers," Mitchell and colleagues conclude.

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