Researchers develop new urine home test (PUR) for prostate cancer
In June this year, we featured an article about prostate cancer and the new urine test called ‘PUR,’ developed by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), to diagnose aggressive prostate cancer and predict whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods.
The experimental new test also identifies men who are up to eight times less likely to need treatment within five years of diagnosis.
We are delighted that further developments mean that, in the future, the ‘PUR’ test (Prostate Urine Risk) could be performed on samples collected at home, so men don’t have to come into the clinic to provide a urine sample – or have to undergo an uncomfortable rectal examination.
Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Clark, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said:
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime. However, doctors struggle to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men.
The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer include blood tests, a physical examination known as a digital rectal examination (DRE), an MRI scan or a biopsy.
We developed the PUR test, which looks at gene expression in urine samples and provides vital information about whether a cancer is aggressive or ‘low risk’.
The new development is our At-Home Urine collection system which means that we can now send out a urine collection kit to a man at home, he fills up a small pot with his first wee of the day and posts it back to us for analysis.
This sounds like quite a small change, but it means that monitoring cancer in men could be so much less stressful for the patient and reduce the number of expensive trips to the hospital.
The idea behind it is as follows: the prostate is a secretory organ and these secretions carry cells and molecules from all over the prostate to the urethra which then get flushed out of the body on urination. If a cancer is present then tiny bits of the tumour are also carried with the secretions and we can detect these in the urine. As the prostate is constantly secreting the levels of biomarkers in the urethra will build up with time. Collecting from the first wee of the day means that overnight secretions can be collected which makes the analysis more sensitive and more robust.
We have just been refunded for the next stage of development of the At-Home collection PUR test by Movember and Prostate Cancer UK and hope that the PUR test could be used in hospitals in 5 years time.”
This development really is excellent news which has the potential to save the lives of many men and also prevent thousands of others from enduring the risks and potential side effects of existing medical interventions that may not, in the future, be necessary.
For most of us, five years seems an extraordinarily long time to wait for such a revolutionary test for prostate cancer to be publicly available, but the wheels of medical research turn quite slowly. Clearly, it is essential that sufficient testing is carried out to ensure any new tests launched are indeed fit for purpose.