Prostate cancer (PCa) is the fourth most common cancer in the world, accounting for 15% of the diagnosed cancers. The current gold standard for the screening of men at risk of PCa is based on the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which measures serum levels of PSA an enzyme produced by the prostate gland. With the results of this screening method, however, over half of the men screened are erroneously subjected to unnecessary and invasive surgical biopsies. This procedure is associated with considerable discomfort, pain and risk of infections for the patient. Hence, improved strategies for the early detection and timely prediction of the aggressiveness of the disease are urgently needed.
To fill this gap, our team has developed a urine test named PROBAN, which can significantly reduce the number of unnecessarily performed biopsies and furthermore identify patients at higher risk of developing an aggressive cancer. This allows for a tailored treatment for patients with an actual medical need, limiting the number of unnecessary interventions. Our team is currently collaborating with the Urology Clinics at the University Hospitals in Zurich and at the CHUV in Lausanne to validate the performance of PROBAN in a larger group of patients.
What is special about the project?
Our product is a completely risk-free test for prostate cancer, allowing for a safer and less painful screening by substantially reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies. Consequently, our product will have a beneficial impact on the quality of life of the affected men as well as on health care costs.
With the support of the Gebert Rüf Stiftung and collaborating with two Swiss Urology Clinics, we have expanded our previous study to a larger scale and started to validate the product concept for its clinical relevance. Testing 75 patients up to this stage of the project, we have proved that PROBAN could reduce the number of unnecessary prostate biopsy by 33% without missing any tumors (100% sensitivity). Furthermore, through a mass-spectrometry screening on a selected cohort of samples, we have identified hundreds of candidate biomarkers that can improve the performance of PROBAN to reach a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 90%. Thanks to the data generated in this project, we have received substantial financing to support its continuation with the validation of the new biomarkers and their combination in a final multiplex immune-assay. Upon study completion, the project team plans to start a biotech company in order to boost the development of our product that can open new avenues for PCa management and patient care.
Banzola I., M.C., Wyler S., Hudolin T., Manzella G., Chiarugi A., Boldorini R., Sais G., Schmidli T.S., Chiffi G., Bachmann A., Sulser T., Spagnoli GC and Provenzano M., Expression of Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase Induced by IFN- and TNF- as Potential Biomarker of Prostate Cancer Progression. Frontiers in Immunology, 2018. May 29;9:1051
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Persons involved in the project
Dr. Irina Banzola
, project leader, University Hospital Zurich (USZ) Blaz Pavlovic
, associate researcher, University Hospital Zurich (USZ) Prof. Dr med Daniel Eberli
, project partner, senior urologist, Urology Clinic, University Hospital Zurich (USZ) Prof. Dr. med. Tullio Sulser
, Host professor, Head of Urology Clinic (USZ) PD Dr. med. Massimo Valerio
, project partner, senior urologist, Urology Clinic (CHUV)
Last update to this project presentation 10.02.2021