Gen-Probe Prostate Cancer Test Looks Promising

6/9/10

Gen-Probe (NASDAQ: GPRO) appears to be on the right track with its experimental prostate cancer test, judging from a raft of recent clinical studies in men being screened for prostate cancer.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in San Francisco last week, provided additional evidence that Gen-Probe’s PCA3 urine test might help eliminate the need for additional biopsies in men with positive PSA tests.

The PSA, or prostate specific antigen test, is the primary screening test for prostate cancer. Because the test has a high false-positive rate, men must undergo biopsies, a painful procedure in which prostate tissue is taken for analysis, to confirm the presence of cancer.

Men with positive PSA test results and negative biopsies have a dilemma. “The PSA said they have cancer but their doctors can’t find it,” said Gen-Probe spokesman Michael Watts. If these patients continue to test positive on a follow up PSA, they face a second biopsy, he said.

Gen-Probe’s PCA3 test has a relatively low false-positive rate, so it could be used to assess the need for a second biopsy. A high score might indicate a biopsy was needed, whereas a low score might indicate a low risk of aggressive cancer, making a second biopsy unnecessary.

In one key study presented at the meeting, the PCA3 was used to analyze urine samples from 1,946 men. Results showed … Next Page »

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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