“Exosomes” and risk for aggressive prostate cancer

A report from the British Broadcasting Corporation this morning says, “Scientists found that in patients with prostate cancer exosomes contain molecules that come directly from the tumour itself.” These particular “exosomes” are fatty capsules that are flushed out of the body in the urine.

According to the BBC report, these exosomes contain types of ribonucleic acid (RNA) that influence which genes are “turned on” and “turned off” in prostate cancer tumors. It may therefore be possible to use the data from the RNA molecules to predict risk for aggressive disease. However, this is very clearly a case in which a theoretical possibility would still need enormous work before such methods could be used with accuracy to predict risk in a clinical setting. In addition, in order to ensure that sufficient amounts of the exosomes are expelled in the urine, prostate massage is required prior to urination — and The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink suspects strongly that this might limit the acceptance of the test among many men at risk!

Nilsson et al., the authors of the paper on which this report is based, clearly understand that this study is merely the proof of a concept, and do not expect to see a test in the cliniuc any time soon. Their abstract indicates that the two genes whose activity can be assessed based on RNA in the exosomes are the PCA3 and the TMPRSS2:ERG genes, both of which are known to be assoiated with some degree of increased risk for more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

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