Protein testing for prostate cancer could lead to personalized treatment

Written by Naamah Maundrell, Future Science Group

A team from the University of Missouri (MO, USA) have investigated how a specific protein biomarker could aid in identifying prostate cancer progression. In the study, published in BMC Cancer, researchers identified that the decrease in testis-specific Y-like protein (TSPYL5) in advanced tumors could act as an indicator of tumor progression.

Currently the prostate-specific antigen test is utilized for early detection of prostate cancer; however, the test can be unreliable as high prostate-specific antigen levels could be a sign of benign conditions, such as inflammation.

The principal investigator, Senthil Kumar (assistant director of the Comparative Oncology, Radiology and Epigenetics Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine; University of Missouri) commented: “Our research is focused on finding genetic biomarkers that help identify prostate cancer patients at risk for more aggressive diseases as well as candidates who may have successful drug treatment or response.”

Researchers identified variation in the TSPYL5 protein between normal patients and tumor tissues with different Gleason scores. The Gleason score (that ranges from 2–10) is a tool utilized by clinicians to categorize the stages of cancer, which helps define treatment options.

“TSPYL5 testing could become one of the tools in our fight against prostate cancer,” Kumar stated. “The anticipation is that we can use this biomarker for patients before they undergo any unnecessary and invasive surgeries or drug therapy plans.”

The team analyzed human prostate cancer samples at various stages of the disease and discovered that TSPYL5 was detected in those tissues with a Gleason score of 7. However, TSPYL5 was at a lower level or absent in individuals with a Gleason score of 7 and above, which could predict a more aggressive course of prostate cancer progression.

The decrease in TSPYL5 protein in advanced tumors could function as an indicator of cancer progression and could lead to reduced drug sensitivity. In the future, the results need to be validated by conducting a study on a large cohort of patients before any potential use in a clinical setting.

Sources: Kumar SR, Bryan JN, Esebua M, Amos-Landgraf J, May TJ. Testis specific Y-like 5: gene expression, methylation and implications for drug sensitivity in prostate carcinoma. BMC Cancer 17(158) (2017);