The speaker at the ELPCSG members’ meeting on 6th February 2020 was Dr Alexis Webb, Senior Research Funding Manager for early Detection at Cancer Research UK (CRUK). This was a fascinating meeting to a packed house at Maggie’s, and Alexis spoke about what the Early Detection Committee at CRUK have funded in the past few years to develop a more reliable prostate cancer test.

There are currently two studies in early development. In total, these studies have received funding for about £500,000. If the early phase work is successful, they would hope that the researchers would come back to CRUK for more funds to build the project towards patient implementation.

  • One study is building new electrochemical sensors to isolate cancer-specific microRNAs (a biomarker) from blood. The idea is to build a small, low-cost and portable sensor that could detect these microRNAs in whole blood samples.
  • The other project is also looking at microRNAs as biomarkers for prostate cancer. This project is using genetic sequencing to better identify the molecular changes that happen in early prostate cancer to then use that as an alternative signature to PSA.

The chart illustrates the reliability of a national PSA testing programme for men (please note that the document was produced in 2013) – click to enlarge.

It is worth noting that progress in developing an accurate, non-invasive urine test for prostate cancer has been announced by John Hopkins University in Maryland, USA – please click here:

And a blog from CRUK describes ‘why a one-off PSA test for prostate cancer is doing men more harm than good’ – click here: