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A better test for prostate cancer

High concentrations of the compound sarcosine in urine signal an aggressive cancer

12:34pm, February 11, 2009

A compound called sarcosine may distinguish slow-growing prostate cancers from those likely to spread and become lethal, a new study shows. And in an unexpected finding, benign prostate cells take on cancerous characteristics in lab dishes when exposed to sarcosine, suggesting that the compound is less of a bystander and more of a perpetrator in the malignancy, researchers report in the Feb. 12 Nature.

“It’s not only a biomarker for aggressive prostate cancer, but it might be involved in the biology of the cancer,” says study coauthor Arul Chinnaiyan, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and pathologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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