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Wayne State University scientists ID new biomarker for prostate cancer

March 26, 2009

DETROIT—Researchers at Wayne State University have identified a new marker for prostate cancer progression that may one day lead to new treatments.

            Prostate cancer, one of the most prevalent non-skin cancers in America, affects one in six men. In 2008, nearly two million Americans were being treated for prostate cancer; nearly 186,000 were newly diagnosed, and approximately 28,000 died from the disease.
            Avraham Raz, professor of pathology and radiation oncology in the School of Medicine at Wayne State University and the Karmanos Cancer Institute, and his team of renowned research collaborators identified a cleaved form of galectin-3 as a marker for prostate cancer progression. According to the study published in the April 2009 issue of The American Journal of Pathology, previous research indicated that decreased levels of galectin-3 are linked with neoplastic progression in prostate cancer. However, increased levels of galectin-3 are believed to be associated with tumorigenicity in other tumor types.
            The study found that cleaved galectin-3, an inheritable gene, is present in late-stage prostate cancer, and that by reducing levels of galectin-3, development of metastatic prostate cancer is inhibited. This finding suggests that galectin-3 may serve as both a diagnostic marker and therapeutic target for future prostate cancer treatments.
            “Dr. Raz’s brilliant research is leading us closer to discovering the genetic risk factors for developing not only prostate cancer, but other cancers as well,” said Dr. Gloria Heppner, associate vice president for research at Wayne State. “His work at Wayne State and the Karmanos Cancer Institute is another example of the tremendous research we are doing to uncover the cause of this prevalent disease, which ultimately will lead to new treatments that will save lives.”
            Other School of Medicine researchers involved in this study include Drs. Yi Wang, Pratima Nangia-Makker, Vitaly Balan, Victor Hogan and Larry Tait. Dr. Kenneth J. Pienta of the departments of internal medicine and urology at the University of Michigan also collaborated in this study.
 
For additional information, contact Julie O'Connor at (313) 577-8845.
 
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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting, ranking in the top 50 in R & D expenditures of all public universities by the National Science Foundation. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. WSU’s School of Medicine is the nation's largest single-campus medical school. Together with the Wayne State University Physician Group and 13 hospital partners, the school is a leader in medical education, biomedical research, and patient care. Its programs of excellence include cancer, maternal-child health, neurosciences, and population studies and urban health.