Arul Chinnaiyan and colleagues profiled the metabolites present in the urine of prostate cancer patients compared and compared it to those of healthy individuals. They found that sarcosine – a derivative of the amino acid glycine – was present at higher levels in the urine of patients with aggressive prostate cancer. The team went on to show that simply adding sarcosine to cultures of benign prostate cells was enough to turn them into invasive cancer cells capable of spread, indicating that the molecule may have an important role in disease.
This is the first time a biomarker for prostate cancer has been detected in urine. Follow up research is now needed to develop a non-invasive approach to testing. The researchers hope that their findings could one day be used to aid prostate cancer diagnosis and may offer new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.