UroCor Research Earns Patents, May Lead to Breakthrough Tests

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OKLAHOMA CITY (JR) -- UroCor research on the genetics of prostate cancer has earned one U.S. patent and notice of allowance, the Oklahoma City urological disease management company said Monday.

The discoveries could lead to breakthrough diagnostic and therapeutic testing capabilities within a few years for UroCor, which handled about 50,000 prostate cancer biopsies last year.

"This is a major accomplishment in the field," proclaimed Dr. Donald S. Coffee, director of research at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Brady Urological Research Institute. Carcinoma of the prostate is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death of men in the United States, and its increased incidence over the last decade has made it the most prevalent of all cancers. Although it accounts for about 200,000 newly diagnosed cases per year, its progression remains poorly understood. The discoveries by UroCor scientists relate to novel genes that change dramatically when prostate tissue transforms either into benign prostate disease or into cancer and metastatic disease. The patents announced Monday, as well as other pending patents by UroCor, cover the nucleic acid sequences of these genes and their uses in diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic testing. Some of the genes have been found to be significantly altered in the blood of prostate cancer patients with metastatic disease, while others are specific solely to prostate cells and such cells in the lymph nodes and bone marrow of certain patients with metastatic disease. "With further development, some of these genes may provide keys to important improvements in solving the most difficult tasks in the management of prostate cancer and possibly certain other malignant diseases," said Dr. Robert W. Veltri, vice president and general manager of UroCor's UroSciences Group. "Our key areas of focus within UroCor are the tasks of determining whether and how far the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland - - `staging' the disease -- and early prediction of those cancers which are most aggressive and therefore pose the greatest danger to the patient. Determining which cancers present the greatest threat, and just as importantly, which ones are less likely to adversely affect patients' well-being during their lifetimes, could help significantly improve the care of these patients and would reduce the cost of managing this disease." UroCor's scientists started research to identify these genetic alterations in 1993. These discoveries were made using not only various well-known methods but also certain techniques developed by UroCor's own scientists. …


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