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UTHSC San Antonio researchers announce 5-year study of prostate cancer biomarkers (3-09-01)

An ambitious five-year, 10,000-patient effort to improve the screening and detection of prostate cancer launches today at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Principal investigator Ian M. Thompson, M.D., professor of surgery and head of the division of urology at the Health Science Center, will discuss the San Antonio Center of Biomarkers of Risk for Prostate Cancer. The project is known as SABOR.

Males 50 or older are invited to participate. African Americans and other males with a family history of prostate cancer may join the study if they are at least 40. Men who have had prostate cancer are not eligible.

Screenings will be held throughout the city at clinics of the University Health System, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, the University Physicians Group, the Barrio Comprehensive Family Health Center and the Ella Austin Health Center.

Interested individuals are invited to call (210) 567-0214 to set up an appointment at the clinic nearest them. Participants will receive annual screenings with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and digital rectal exams. The men will complete dietary surveys at enrollment and give blood samples during the five annual visits.

The National Cancer Institute is funding the study as part of its Early Detection Research Network. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is the only other research site for the prostate cancer project. This program will recruit from all ethnic groups with a focus on over-sampling of underserved and minority populations.

“Our ultimate goal is twofold,” Dr. Thompson said. “We want to identify men who are at risk of prostate cancer as well as those who have a very low risk – men who might never have to be screened. Second, for men who are at risk of developing prostate cancer, we want to find new methods to prevent the disease. Ultimately, we’d like to put ourselves out of business by preventing the disease entirely.”

The SABOR study will evaluate the relationships between diet and prostate cancer. Researchers also seek to show a connection between prostate cancer biomarkers, such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and development of the disease in the research population. Dr. Thompson’s team also hopes to discover novel biomarkers.

Cells have unique molecular “signatures” that vary depending upon gene activity and production of proteins and other cellular products. Scientists are interested in the changes of the signature when a normal cell becomes a cancer cell. “We are focusing on these signatures and on ways to apply them to the earlier detection of prostate cancer,” Dr. Thompson said.

Contact: Will Sansom or Myong Covert