Actual data needed to support potential of measuring serum TK levels

It has been brought to our attention by one of our readers that a Swedish company called AroCell is developing a new test that may have potential in monitoring for risk of prostate cancer progression.

According to currently available information, AroCell’s TK210 ELISA test can be used to measure levels of the enzyme thymidine kinase (TK) in serum (blood) samples, and TK levels in serum can provide an accurate estimate of cancer growth for at least some types of cancer.

Information on AroCell´s web site states that their first marketed product is being designed for prognosis and monitoring of solid tumors such as prostate and breast cancers and that this requires the ability to measure active and inactive (“free” and “bound”?) levels of TK.

However, at present the only information we can find about the potential of measuring serum TK levels as a way to monitor prostate cancer progression is generic information developed by AroCell itself. We were able to find a published paper from a Chinese research team about the potential use of thymidine kinase levels as a way to screen for risk of cancer in general, but that’s a very different potential use. We were not able to find a single paper published in English in the scientific literature that provided any data to support the potential of this test in the management of prostate cancer.

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is of the opinion that we are going to need a lot more information before we have compelling data to support the idea that measuring serum TK levels is any more accurate than measuring serum PSA levels when it comes to monitoring patients for the progression of prostate cancer.

11 Responses


    Thanks for reviewing this Sitemaster. I see it the way you do, but I’ll add my two cents worth.

    I’ve read the Chinese paper, which is available free (in English), and there appears to be a rather strong association between “prostate hyperplasia”, which commonly is referred to as BPH or benign growth, and TK elevation. The paper does not go into a connection with actual prostate cancer, except for a brief mention related to new cases and deaths among those in the study. As detecting BPH is not an issue these days (and for a long time), I’m not seeing any added value regarding prostate cancer.

    I also searched the web site of the American Association for Cancer Research to see if there were any pre-publication poster abstracts on TK. I found about three dozen mentions for hits on the site and referring to AACR journals, many of them quite old, but only one from 20007 related to prostate cancer, and that was no longer available. In short, there is scant interest in TK regarding prostate cancer among researchers. While that could change, TK is slipping off (or is totally off) the radar screen at this time except for this company. I’ve also visited the company sponsored web site, and I’m skeptical about their basis for promoting TK in connection with prostate cancer.

  2. Hi Sitemaster,

    “we are going to need a lot more information before we have compelling data to support the idea that measuring serum TK levels is any more accurate than measuring serum PSA levels when it comes to monitoring patients for the progression of prostate cancer.”

    I’ve been following this company since you made this post, and they are about to release the product, along with results of clinical trials needed for European certification (CE) supporting that claim. I’m guessing that documentation will be quite technical and way over my head, so I hope you get a chance to read it and give us an update!

  3. Daniel:

    If you let me know when the company releases the data I will be happy to have a look at whatever is available.

  4. A report about this test that is relevant for prostate cancer is available on PubMed.

  5. AroCell’s first version of TK210 was used for blood cancer and it is an early version of that the Chinese have been using. They paid Arocell to use it but that agreement ended last year. They have not been able to use the developed modern version.

    When AroCell found they were able to detect for example prostate cancer and breast cancer they ended their work with blood cancer before the product was release.

    In last week of September we can expect the release of the product for breast cancer. First it will just be released for parts of the European market and then the rest of Europe. It is expensive to release it in US so it is an later question. If someone in US want to use it for scientific research around breast cancer or prostate cancer I don´t think Arocell have any problem with that.

    In parallel they are working with tests for prostate cancer and will hopefully release that version 2017.

  6. Dear Jan … This may all be of interest to the investor community, but it is not really of any interest to patients until we get the data you are suggesting may be available in 2017. The ability to detect prostate cancer is actually not an issue, in any case. What will make any new test valuable is the ability to discriminate with accuracy between forms of prostate cancer that are clinically significant and need treatment and forms of prostate cancer that are indolent and can simply be monitored. No currently available test other than a biopsy can accomplish this with a meaningful degree of accuracy.

  7. Short time after my dad died in prostate cancer Arocell asked for the first time public after investors to get money to finish their project and I invested. I invested because it sounded so good for patients, not in the first place to earn money.

    The idea behind Arocell is not screening, it is for patients with a diagnose. The test show if the patient have a growing cancer and how fast it is growing, not the type of cancer.
    + If the patient is old and the cancer is not growing or growing slow the idea is to just monitor.
    + If the patient have been cured, just monitor and check if it start growing again.
    + If the patient have got a treatment check fast if the cancer have slowed down or if it is best to switch and test another treatment.

    It is a complementary test and not supposed to be used alone. The accuracy so far to measure the speed of the growth of cancer and lack of false positive have been outstanding, but it is not scientific proven yet. We have to wait to be sure.

    Around Europe patients with blood cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer and maybe something else who have been part of those tests made so far have already benefitted from the product. I hope patients not part of those tests will start to benefit in this year.

    I have no knowledge around cancer but I trust the people behind Arocell. English is not my first language so I hope I did note mess it up to bad.

  8. Hi Sitemaster. This product is taking longer than I thought, but I’m keeping an eye on the product’s development. What you are asking for is exactly what this new product claims to do; it will determine not only that a tumor is present, but also the rate of growth, accurate enough to determine how aggressive of a treatment is needed — if any at all. This is what I find exciting about this product. I’m hoping this will be available soon. I’ll be one of the first to ask for it on my annual checkup — I’m very much in the risk zone; my father and grandfather both had the disease.

  9. Jan:

    There are already several different tests available that can be used in this way (e.g., the genetic/genomic tests like Prolaris and ConfirmMD and others). Thus the value of the Arocell test will need to be compared to those tests before we can really tell how useful kit is. Please understand that I am not suggesting that the Arocell may not be useful in all sorts of ways and individual situations. It is simply that until we have actual data that can demonstrate such utility prospectively, all we and Arocell can do is speculate and hope.

  10. Hi sitemaster,

    I just wonder if you have any news about the test Arocell has developed about measuring cancer growth?

    Best regards


  11. Dear BA:

    All I know is that a poster was presented as the recent AACR meeting. Here’s the link to the abstract for that poster. It’s going to need a lot more work before anyone will know whether this test is actually of any clinical value.

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