New nanoparticle-based test may improve diagnosis of prostate cancer (in the future)

An article in the Journal of Translational Medicine (in conjunction with a media release from the University of Central Florida) has described a new test that — according to the media release — may be able to further discriminate between indolent and clinically significant forms of prostate cancer.

The test developed by Quon Hu0 and her colleagues uses gold nanoparticles to detect a chemical reaction between a prostate cancer cells and the human immunoglobulin G (IgG), which is a common protein that circulates in the blood.

Huo and her collaborators have been able to show that IgG likes to stick to the surface of the gold nanoparticles to form a protein corona. This corona can be detected by a technique called dynamic light scattering.  When prostate cancer cells are present, they react with the IgG in the blood, and this interaction is “recognized” by the gold nanoparticles.

By using this relatively simple test, the research team claims to be able to make a quantitative determination of the aggressiveness of the prostate tumors are and the likelihood they will metastasize.

To date, this test has been carried out in animal models and in human tissue samples, but not in actual specimens from patients with prostate cancer. There is therefore some way to go before one might know the real value of such a test and whether it would be useful in a clinical setting or really only in clinical research scenarios. At this time, even Dr. Huo seems to be of the opinion that “The test most likely would be used to supplement those already used to provide doctors with more quantitative and accurate information.” However, any test that can help us to better differentiate indolent from aggressive forms of prostate cancer will help patients and their physicians to make better choices about their treatment.

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