Simple urine test for sarcosine detects prostate cancer



Sarcosine is the N-methyl derivative of glycine. It is a natural amino acid found in muscles and other body tissues. Sarcosine was first isolated and named by the German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1847, while Jacob Volhard first synthesized it in 1862. Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.



Glycine (Gly) is the smallest of the 20 amino acids commonly found in proteins. Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

A simple urine test for sarcosine could be used to detect prostate cancer and might help avoid the need for biopsies.

Adding sarcosine to benign prostate cells made them behave like cancer cells:

"Any time they did anything that increased production [of sarcosine], the cells became highly mobile," says Beecher. The cells started to move so much they could get themselves into a sample of gelatine under their own force — a behaviour that cancerous cells also show."

Sarcosine should be looked at as a possible drug target in prostate cancer

References:
Prostate cancer marker found in urine. Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.94.
Sarcosine, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Related:
Researchers identify new prostate cancer marker detectable in urine. Helen Jaques.

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