Adding ZPP to Cancer Detection

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Science  20 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5994, pp. 885
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5994.885-c

Like many other cancers, prostate cancer is more responsive to therapy when it is diagnosed at an early stage. Blood tests for PSA (prostate-specific antigen), a cancer screening strategy introduced over two decades ago, have led to a significant reduction in death rates from the disease. The PSA test is imperfect, however, because it fails to distinguish cancer from some benign conditions of the prostate and hence can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Researchers have continued to search for more sensitive and specific markers for detecting and monitoring the disease.

Ghosh et al. have begun to explore whether the solution might be as simple as monitoring the zinc content of prostate tissue. Healthy prostate tissue contains high levels of mobile zinc, but these levels fall dramatically when malignant (but not benign) growth occurs. By combining a zinc-specific fluorescent probe, ZPP1, with optical imaging approaches, the authors found that they could detect and follow noninvasively the progression of prostate cancer in mice by monitoring zinc loss in prostate tissue over time. The authors speculate that once optical imaging approaches are adapted for clinical use, this zinc test could potentially be developed into a sensitive and specific tool for human prostate cancer detection.

Cancer Res. 70, 6119 (2010).

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