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Researchers find new method of detecting bladder cancer

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

A recent study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University has uncovered a novel gene target that may help doctors to detect and treat bladder cancer. The gene is known as melanoma differentiation associated gene-9/syntenin (mda-9/syntenin), and researchers have expressed hope that it might be used as a means of destroying bladder cancer cells, diagnose the cancer non-invasively and prevent metastasis.

"Currently, there are no biomarkers that can accurately predict bladder cancer metastasis, or monitor its progression," said Paul Fisher, coauthor of the study. "Our findings could assist in the development of innovative ways to detect, monitor and treat bladder cancer."

The report used lab tests of cell cultures and mouse models of the bladder cancer found in humans to determine that mda-9/syntenin helps to regulate the growth and metastasis of bladder cancer cells. Researchers also experimented with increasing the gene's expression, and they found that it was linked to disease progression. When they suppressed the expression, the cancer cells grew at a significantly slower rate, and they were less able to divide.

Mda-9/syntenin controls the progression of bladder cancer by affecting epidermal growth factor receptor signals. EGFR contributes to cell proliferation, cell migration, resistance to cell suicide and the growth of new blood vessels. It can be found on the surface of bladder cancer cells.

Current bladder cancer treatment
According to the Mayo Clinic, bladder cancer in its earliest stages is curable. Patients can get surgery to remove the tumor, using either electric current or a high-energy laser, or an operation that removes both the tumor and a portion of the bladder, called segmental cystectomy. Other treatment options include immunotherapy, which stimulates the body's immune system to fight the cancer cells, or chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells.

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