Current statistics say that roughly 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. About 10% of men for whom cancer cells do not remain localized to the primary site develop locally invasive and metastatic disease, which increases the severity of the disease and likelihood of death, while severely limiting treatment options. Now, investigators at the Yale University School of Medicine have uncovered a potential new biomarker that may identify patients at increased risk of prostate cancer metastasis. Findings from the new study were published recently in The American Journal of Pathologythrough an article titled “Syntaphilin Is a Novel Biphasic Biomarker of Aggressive Prostate Cancer and a Metastasis Predictor.”

Marie E. Robert, MD, professor in the department of pathology at Yale School of Medicine states, “There are currently no tissue-based biomarkers to help clinicians reliably identify the subset of prostate cancer patients who will progress to life-threatening, disseminated disease and who would, therefore, benefit from systemic therapies before or following prostatectomy. If our findings are supported by larger studies, SNPH measurement in tumors could be developed into a predictive biomarker.”

In this study, the researchers found that Syntaphilin (SNPH)—a mitochondrial protein—is a key determinant of the balance between tumor cell proliferation and tumor cell invasion and is abundantly expressed in prostate cancer. “We showed that SNPH, a molecule originally identified as a negative regulator of mitochondrial dynamics in neurons, is abundantly expressed in prostate cancer,” the authors wrote.

Though not yet available clinically, “This is the first study to suggest a clinical role for SNPH assessment in prostate cancer prognosis, potentially confirming recent evidence in experimental models of its importance in the phenotypic switch between proliferative and metastatic tumor states,” Roberts concluded. “Our results also reaffirm a critical, emerging role of mitochondrial biology in influencing tumor behavior.”

prostate cancer