Worldwide, prostate cancer diagnoses account for almost 8% of all new cancer cases,(1) and for approximately 15% of all cancers diagnosed in male patients. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, and in 2017, it’s expected that up to 161,360 men will be diagnosed with the disease in the United States alone.(2) However, up to 60% of these men will receive a negative diagnosis, while almost 20% will be diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer that doesn’t require active treatment.(3) NuView Life Sciences (nuviewinfo.com/site/3/), a biotechnology company developing new precision cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, asserts that precision medicine is the key to increasing accuracy with prostate cancer screening while minimizing invasiveness.
In most cases, prostate cancer is initially identified through use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which measures levels of a certain protein that men naturally produce at varying levels.(4,5) Even though this test is the standard method of detecting prostate cancer, only 25% of men with a moderately high PSA level actually have prostate cancer,(5) and many of those men have a very slow-growing form of the disease, which may not even require treatment.(6)
Approximately 30 million PSA tests are performed nationwide each year, but certain drugs and other medical conditions can influence the accuracy of the test.(7) Due to an abundance of false positive PSA tests, many men go through invasive, painful prostate biopsies.
“Prostate biopsies are common but are highly morbid to the patients and are associated with high risk of infection. Statistically for 66% of the time biopsies find benign pathology. A non-invasive and a more sensitive procedure shall add greatly to the management of patients, suspected to have prostate cancer,” says Mathew Thakur, Ph.D., the inventor of the VPAC technology who is a professor of Radiology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and the Director of the Laboratories of Radiopharmaceutical Research and Molecular Imaging.
“As we move into a precision-based mindset, we’re finding that diagnostic tools we’ve used for years might not be the best choice. It’s important to find ways to accurately diagnose each person individually,” said Paul Crowe, chairman and CEO of NuView Life Sciences. “With prostate cancer, we can help save men from unnecessary stress brought on by false positive diagnoses, while reducing costs for the healthcare industry by avoiding unneeded confirmatory diagnostic tests and treatment.”
Until recently, the PSA test was the gold standard used to diagnose men with prostate cancer. However, more physicians and healthcare facilities are viewing the PSA as a one-size-fits-all test in an industry that’s shifting to a precision-based approach to care. In fact, the PSA test was given a “D” rating by the U.S. Preventative Task Force in 2012, and some third-party insurers have chosen not to reimburse any expenses related to this test.(4)
NuView is currently working to develop its NV-VPAC1 peptide analog technology for use in the in vivo diagnosis of prostate cancer. The VPAC1 receptor, which is highly expressed on the surface of many types of cancer cells, and makes it an ideal genomic target for early detection and provides a snapshot diagnosis of prostate cancer, potentially eliminating the need for long term observation. In the future, NuView hopes the NV-VPAC1 technology can also be used routinely as a liquid biopsy to detect prostate cancer cells in voided urine specimens. This pre-biopsy test would substantially reduce the number of false positive tests, eliminate unnecessary biopsies and change the way prostate cancer is initially identified.
“We’re currently developing our NV-VPAC1 platform technology as a new imaging agent for use with positron emission tomography (PET) systems. We have combined the NV-VPAC1 peptide with a medical imaging isotope that obvious on PET scans. We believe this technology has the potential to change the way many types of cancer—including prostate cancer—are diagnosed, and it offers precision-based, individualized diagnostic and treatment solutions for patients, providers, and the healthcare industry as a whole,” Crowe said.
Currently, prostate cancer is treated using several invasive and often debilitating therapies, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, and surgery.(8) Many men with slow-growing forms of prostate cancer receive such treatments—often unnecessarily and at great expense.
“The VPAC technology promises to provide physicians meaningful results just through the analysis of voided urine provided by a patient. The results thus far have shown greater than 98% accuracy,” adds Thakur.
As precision-based diagnostic tests for prostate cancer improve, both patients and third-party payers should begin to realize a decrease in healthcare expenditures. The tide is already turning on PSA tests; even the American Cancer Society does not recommend routine screening using this method.(10) Men should be fully informed of their options regarding testing until a more accurate, less damaging method of identifying prostate cancer comes to market.