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Serum Marker for Prostate Cancer Improves PSA Test

Technology Announcement: October 7, 2009

Contact: David W. Bradley, Ph.D.
Tel: 301/402-0540

Bethesda, Maryland, October 7, 2009 - A potential serum marker for prostate cancer is now available for licensing from scientists with the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, and The Johns Hopkins University. The marker is a soluble protein called dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP) that their preliminary data show is significantly elevated at all stages in the serum of 102 people with prostate cancer.

Further assessment of DSPP will require studies that screen for the protein in a larger number of patients. In addition, studies will be needed to test baseline values of the protein in serum and how they correspond with disease outcome and response to treatment.

According to the scientists, the licensing opportunity is particularly noteworthy because the standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test yields significant rates of false-positives (meaning that PSA is elevated but no cancer is present). Finding additional biomarkers to complement PSA could provide significant benefits by reducing unnecessary medical procedures, financial costs, and mental stress. The scientists found that by segregating samples as a function of both PSA and DSPP, the overlap between the normal and cancer groups was removed, thus improving sensitivity and specificity.

The DSPP protein is a member of the small integrin-binding ligand N-linked glycoprotein (SIBLING) gene family, which encodes small soluble proteins that are abundant in teeth and bones. The SIBLING gene family also includes bone sialoprotein (BSP), dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1), matrix extracellular phosphoglycoprotein (MEPE), and osteopontin (OPN).

One or more SIBLING proteins are often induced in many different cancers. For example, BSP, DMP1, DSPP, and OPN exhibited elevated mRNA expression and protein levels in prostate cancer biopsies while BSP, DSPP, and OPN were also elevated in serum from prostate cancer subjects, with serum DSPP exhibiting the greatest difference. Of the SIBLING gene family members, DSPP appears in preliminary work to be a strong candidate for use in serum assays for prostate cancer detection.

The scientists, Alka Jain, Dianalee A. McKnight, Larry W. Fisher, Elizabeth B. Humphreys, Leslie A. Mangold, Alan W. Partin, and Neal S. Fedarko, presented their findings in Clinical Cancer Research (2009) 15(16):5199-207.

The SIBLING markers are available for licensing: see US Patent No. 6,995,018, entitled “Complex Formed by N-Linked Glycoproteins (Siblings) and Factor H.” For more information, contact David W. Bradley, Ph.D., Technology Development Coordinator, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), at

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is the nation’s leading funder of research on oral, dental, and craniofacial health.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — the Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.

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This page last updated: May 28, 2014