Prostate cancer test

10,000 men die in the UK alone of prostate cancer, but a new test developed by Brax Ltd and showcased today at a technology event at the Hauser Forum in Cambridge allows multiple proteins to be detected in blood samples which could dramatically improve diagnostics.

Biochemist Andrew Thompson explains that, “It has long been known that many of the biomarkers used for diagnosis are very crude. We often don’t know if they are a cause of the disease or part of the body’s defence. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is the marker used to detect prostate cancer, but 70% of men with raised levels of PSA haven’t actually got the disease. These false positives mean healthy men go through the distress of hearing they may have cancer, and are subjected to painful and unnecessary biopsies.”

The new technology developed by Brax detects the levels of specific proteins in blood, and is unique in detecting many proteins simultaneously, which means other markers, such as kallikreins, could be tested at the same time as PSA. to produce a more reliable prostate cancer test.

The new test represents an alternative to conventional ELISA, and uses Brax’ proprietary label, “Shifters”, to enhance mass spectrometric detection of proteins in blood, sidestepping expensive antibodies. The technique can detect lower concentrations of analytes than ELISA, it can even detect interleukins, which opens up other possibilities for diagnostics.

“The inaccuracy of the current test for prostate cancer means healthy men undergo painful tests, and it leaves some men with the disease undiagnosed,” adds Andrews. “We can develop a superior test that would ease the burden on health services and patients.”

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