Research Projects

Identification of novel biomarkers for prostate cancer – Dr Karl-Heinz Storbeck

Identification of novel biomarkers for prostate cancer – Dr Karl-Heinz Storbeck

Dr Karl-Heinz Storbeck

Dr Karl-Heinz Storbeck

Dr Karl-Heinz Storbeck

Department of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch

Email: storbeck@sun.ac.za

Project Title

The identification of novel biomarkers for prostate cancer.

Project Description

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most prevalent cancer among men in South Africa. The aim of this project is to identify a biological marker (biomarker) which can be used for the early detection of this cancer. A biomarker is a molecule, often a protein, which can serve as an indicator of a specific biological state or condition. At present, the most common biomarker used for the detection of prostate cancer is a small protein known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Increased PSA levels are, however, not unique to prostate cancer and also occur as a result of a number of benign (noncancerous) conditions, including prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. As a result, only about 30 percent of men who have a prostate biopsy due to an elevated PSA level are diagnosed with prostate cancer. The use of PSA as a routine test for prostate cancer has therefore been brought into question with the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF, 2012) stating that it does not recommend PSA screening, noting that “the potential benefit does not outweigh the expected harms”. For this reason there is an urgent need for the identification of new biomarkers for this prevalent disease.

This study will make use of the recent advances in mass spectrometry-based proteomic technologies, a technique which can be used to identify unique proteins from a complex biological sample, to search for novel biomarkers for prostate cancer. We will compare the secretome (the proteins secreted from a cell) of four unique prostate cell lines, which will be cultured in a tissue culture laboratory. The four cell lines will consist of an androgen-dependent prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP; an androgen-independent prostate cancer cell line, PC3; a benign prostate hyperplasia cell line, BPH-1; and a normal healthy prostate cell line, PNT2C2. By comparing the secretomes of the four unique prostate cancer cell lines we aim to identify proteins which are unique to prostate cancer and not benign prostate hyperplasia or healthy prostate cells. These proteins will subsequently be evaluated for their potential to serve as biomarkers for prostate cancer.

Non-Scientific Report

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most prevalent cancer among men in South Africa. The aim of this project is to identify a biological marker (biomarker) which can be used for the early detection of this cancer. A biomarker is a molecule, often a protein, which can serve as an indicator of a specific biological state or condition. At present, the most common biomarker used for the detection of prostate cancer is a small protein known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Increased PSA levels are, however, not unique to prostate cancer and also occur as a result of a number of benign (noncancerous) conditions, including prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As a result, only about 30 percent of men who have a prostate biopsy due to an elevated PSA level are diagnosed with prostate cancer. For this reason, there is an urgent need for the identification of new biomarkers for this prevalent disease.

We have therefore conducted a comprehensive analysis of the proteome (the proteins within the cells) of four human prostate cell lines. These included two prostate cancer cell lines, a benign prostate hyperplasia cell line and a healthy prostate cell line. Using the state of the art mass spectrometer at Stellenbosch Universities Central Analytical Facility (CAF) a total of 3576 proteins were identified. Comprehensive bioinformatic analysis of our data was performed using the proprietary software package, Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA). IPA is a database that serves a repository for biological, functional annotations and pathway models for genes, proteins, cell lines and tissue. This analysis revealed several candidate biomarkers which could distinguish between prostate cancer and BPH. Candidate biomarkers now need to be further validated in model systems.

Publications, Posters and Abstracts

 


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