Prostate cancer is diagnosed in an estimated 80% of men who reach the age of 80 and represents 28% of all male cancers. If left untreated, the majority of prostate cancers remain asymptomatic and indolent for decades. If treated with radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy, the risk of metastasis is reduced, but patients’ quality of life can suffer in ways requiring additional clinical consideration, most notably erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and rectal bleeding. Though a host of criteria and assays have emerged to assist in the prediction of local prostate cancer recurrence, these parameters, ranging from diagnostics to clinical observations, have limited utility for predicting metastatic progression to distant sites.

Description of Project:

Dr. Ostrer has developed a method of determining the risk of metastasis of patients who have or were previously treated for prostate cancer. The method is premised in the identification of metastatic signature genes and genomic regions experiencing changes in copy number in metastasis. Risk is determined based on the calculation of a metastatic potential score from at least 12 genes and/or genomic regions. These include various members of the solute carrier superfamily, Cadherin family and potassium channel family, many of which have been well established in prostate cancer metastasis. Notably, a majority of the genes identified code for molecular functions that enhance metastasis, such as motility, invasion and anchorage-independent growth.


This method represents a novel approach to determining the risk of prostate cancer metastasis, thereby justifying aggressive treatment in high-risk cases while improving the quality of life for men with indolent disease.  As a comparison, the FDA approved breast cancer gene expression signature diagnostic “MammaPrint” uses a similar approach in the development of their risk reporting strategy. With an accompanying approach to a diagnostic kit suitable for solid support of nucleic acid probes, such as microarray slides, the design of the present invention has tremendous translational implications to improving the speed and accuracy of predicting prostate cancer metastasis in a way which is currently unavailable from the dozen or so diverse and often time-consuming clinical parameters and assays currently in widespread use.

Patent Status:

A provisional patent application covering this novel diagnostic has been filed in the U.S.

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