Novel prostate cancer prognostic marker sets (L-12359)

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men, with nearly 220,000 new cases and more than 30,000 deaths each year. Recent studies examining the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening revealed a 20 % reduction in death rates in prostate cancer patients. However, PSA screening was also associated with an increased risk of adverse effects due to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Overtreatment as a result of current standards of prostate cancer screening is more common than with other cancers, highlighting the need for better prognostic markers. Using the Multiple Survival Screening (MSS) algorithm developed at the NRC, a robust set of prognostic markers were identified that can accurately classify prostate cancer patients according to their risk of recurrence and help identify low-risk patients for whom the potential adverse effects of treatment outweighs its benefits.

Technology transfer

  • A commercial exploitation licence for the technology.
  • Development of this technology through a joint collaboration.

Market applications

  • Development of prognostic tests for prostate cancer (e.g. using PCR, microarray chip, sequencing technology).
  • Stratification of prostate cancer patients according to risk to identify those who would benefit most from either a watch-and-wait program or the use of existing or new treatments.

How it works

Advances in genomics have spurred the search for biomarkers to aid in both the diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer to help determine the appropriate course of clinical treatment and improve patient outcomes. However, thus far, no algorithm has been able to successfully generate cancer prognostic gene signatures with high accuracy and robustness in order to identify these patients. Recently the Multiple Survival Screening (MSS) algorithm developed at NRC and previously validated in the generation of robust prognostic markers for breast cancer (L-12020) has been used successfully to generate prognostic markers for prostate cancer.

Three marker sets, each containing 30 genes, have been validated in three independent prostate cancer patient cohorts representing a total of 606 samples and shown to identify patients in the low-risk group with 95.6 % to 99.3 % accuracy. The predictive accuracy of this novel set of prognostic gene markers for prostate cancer is significantly higher than that of several published gene sets that only have a predictive accuracy of 63.8 % to 88.3 %. As demonstrated with the breast cancer markers, these prostate cancer markers may also be useful in guiding drug treatment in addition to their prognostic value.

Table 1 – Predicting Accuracy of the prostate cancer marker sets
Dataset No. of Samples Accuracy (low-risk group)
GSE10645 (training set) 189 100 %
GSE16560 261 96 %
GSE21034 140 99 %
GSE10645 205 98 %

Benefits for partners

Validated prognostic prostate cancer markers for identification of patients with low-risk of recurrence

Due to the heterogeneous nature of cancer, current prostate cancer biomarkers are generally of low predictive value when tested on populations (datasets) other than those used to identify them. The robustness of the selected biomarkers sets was validated by their ability to predict outcomes in three independent prostate cancer datasets totalling more than 600 samples. The three sets of novel gene markers which were identified using the unique MSS algorithm demonstrate a higher accuracy in predicting patient outcomes when compared to the current PSA standard or other published marker sets.

Unique marker sets for prostate cancer with a broad clinical spectrum

As opposed to other cancer prognostic markers that are only applicable to selected groups of patients, these marker sets were demonstrated to be effective in predicting outcomes across multiple datasets with 95.6 – 99.3 % accuracy.

Improved management of prostate cancer patients

These novel prostate cancer markers constitute a powerful screening tool to help physicians identify the best course of clinical management for patients. This would lead to improved patient health outcomes and reduce the risks and costs associated with current trend of overtreatment in prostate cancer patients. Conversely, it can also help identify high risk patients who stand to benefit most from further treatment.

Patent protection

NRC file 12359: Patents pending in the US, Canada, and Europe.
NRC file 12020: Patents issued in the US, pending in Canada, Europe, Australia, India, and Japan.


April Luong, Client Relationship Leader
Telephone: 514-496-2745
LinkedIn: April Luong