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Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Wins $2.5M NCI Grant to Develop Prostate Cancer Test

NEW YORK – Researchers at the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center on Tuesday said they have been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop an exosome-based prostate cancer test. 

The researchers will collaborate with Bio-Techne's Exosome Diagnostics to develop a more prostate cancer-specific platform based on the company's biomarker, the cancer center said in a statement. The team will use data and information from an ongoing NCI-funded clinical trial, MDSelect, that includes 250 men being evaluated for prostate cancer.

The researchers will select for exosomes tagged with the prostate-specific membrane antigen, hoping to collect exosomes that are specifically secreted from prostate cancer cells, which is expected to provide more accurate prostate cancer risk evaluation, the cancer center said. 

"There have been challenges and limitations in the past with detecting prostate cancer via urine and other noninvasive methods," Sanoj Punnen, co-chair of the Genitourinary Site Disease Group at the center and the grant's lead principal investigator, said in a statement. "But this proposal combines innovative technology from our collaborators at Exosome Diagnostics with well-annotated samples from an ongoing clinical trial of men undergoing biopsy for prostate cancer, placing us in an ideal position for developing a new platform of highly specific markers for prostate cancer detection. The NCI agreed."

"If this platform is validated, it will have important implications for patients by helping to reduce the need for invasive biopsies," Alan Pollack, chair and professor of radiation oncology at the center and one of the principal investigators on the grant, added. "The noninvasive testing might also be used as a marker of prostate cancer treatment response and/or progression."

Exosome Diagnostics currently offers its urine-based ExoDx Prostate Test, which received breakthrough device designation from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2019 and CE marking in 2021.