A new imaging technique capable of non-invasively distinguishing between malignant and benign prostate cancer has been developed.
The method uses ghrelin, a growth hormone produced in the stomach and pancreas, which is used to be consumed at much higher rate in malignant cells than normal prostate cells.
Using this knowledge, the team created a ghrelin-based imaging agent by decorating the hormone with a fluorescent compound.
Tests carried out on samples from five prostate cancer patients found the signal was five times stronger in malignant cancer cells than either normal prostate cells or benign cells.
Drs John Lewis and Len Luyt from the Lawson Health Institute worked on the technique.
"Imaging tests such as PET or MRI are used to diagnose a number of cancers without biopsy, but biopsy is still the best option for prostate cancer.
"This work suggests that imaging using ghrelin may allow us to perform a non-invasive biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer and potentially detect metastasis earlier," Mr Lewis said.
A team from the Centenary Institute in Sydney discovered a method for starving prostate cancer cells, preventing their growth. The researchers managed to target pumps which allow the cells to take in the essential growth nutrient leucine.