UH Cancer Center study identifies biomarkers related to prostate cancer risk

August 27, 2020

A study identifying candidate DNA methylation biomarkers related to prostate cancer risk has been published in Nature Communications . This international collaborative study, led by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researcher, Lang Wu, Ph.D., seeks to improve understanding of the various causes of prostate cancer.

Lang Wu

Investigators studied DNA methylation, a mechanism that is known to regulate gene expression, to identify biomarkers for prostate cancer risk. Biomarkers are measurable indicators such as DNA, proteins or hormones, found in blood, body fluids, or tissues, that may be a sign of normal or abnormal conditions or diseases in the body. Researchers first developed mathematical models to predict DNA methylation levels across the human genome. Through using these models along with data from a large group of men who have and have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Wu and collaborators discovered various associations between DNA methylation-gene expression and prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer. “Our discovery of novel DNA methylation biomarkers associated with prostate cancer will allow us to better understand the biology of the disease, and help us to identify individuals at risk for this malignancy,” said Wu.

Wu and collaborators are also conducting other studies which aim to identify ethnicspecific prostate cancer DNA methylation biomarkers, including those of Japanese and Whites, who make up a significant percentage of Hawaiʻi’s population. Findings from these studies will help researchers in implementing risk assessment strategies to improve prostate cancer outcomes.