Patent granted for highly accurate prostate cancer screening method

Co-inventors (L-R): Roberto Incitti, Vladimir Bajic, Hicham Mansour (not pictured)

By Rose Gregorio

A new patent, "Methylation biomarkers for prostate cancer" (USPTO Patent No. 9976187), filed by Professor Vladimir Bajic, Senior Bioinformatician Roberto Incitti and former Bioscience Core Lab Research Scientist Hicham Mansour was granted on May 22, 2018. 

The patent's technology is based on an algorithm that analyzes the methylation state of about 30 DNA sites to determine whether or not an individual has prostate cancer and can be used as a key step to develop a screening test. 

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. In 2012, about 1.1 million people were diagnosed with the disease, resulting in 307,000 deaths. 

Early detection of this pathology is crucial for a patient's chances of survival. In fact, the five-year survival rate for most men diagnosed at early stage is almost 100%. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate drops to 29%.

The most used screening test is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.  However, it is often inaccurate and produces many false positives.

Like the PSA test, "Methylation biomarkers for prostate cancer" is non-invasive and just requires a blood sample. Initial experiments on 70 high quality samples yielded an almost 100% accuracy rate, making it potentially more reliable than any other non-invasive screening test for prostate cancer available today.  

Dr. Incitti explained that now that their patent is granted, the next step is to have the concept validated on a larger population. "We plan to conduct a pilot study on about 1,000 people," he said. "We are also in the process of creating a startup which we believe will allow us to carry out the study under the best conditions."