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Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation Announces U.S. Patents Issued on New Non-Invasive Methods to Detect Prostate Cancer

SEATTLE, WA - May 20, 2002 - The Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation has obtained two U.S. patents (#6,200,765 and #6,383,759) directed to non-invasive methods for the improved detection of prostate cancer. The invention is based, in part, on the discovery that the proportion of prostate cells among epithelial cells present in a body fluid sample is higher in men with prostate cancer compared to men who are free of prostate cancer. The most recent patent, issued May 7, 2002, is directed to a method for the detection of prostate cancer by determining the proportion of prostate cells which express a tumor-associated marker among the total number of prostate cells in a body fluid sample. Cells within a sample of body fluid are quantified by using specific antibodies which recognize epithelial cells, prostate cells, or tumor cells. Enrichment of prostate cancer cells present in bodily fluids can be used to increase the sensitivity of micrometastasis detection for improved diagnosis and patient monitoring. The body fluid can be, but is not limited to blood, urine or semen.

The Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, formerly known as the Pacific Northwest Cancer Foundation, was spearheaded by Dr. Murphy until his untimely death in January 2000, and was subsequently renamed in his honor. Dr. David J. Waters, Executive Director of the Foundation says, “I am proud to be entrusted with the responsibility of carrying forward the legacy of the ground-breaking work by my predecessor, Gerald P. Murphy. That exemplary legacy included the development of the PSA test for detection of prostate cancer.”

Guidelines for diagnosis of new prostate cancer, adopted by the American Cancer Society in June 1997, recommend an annual prostate specific antigen (PSA) exam as well as a digital rectal exam (DRE) for men over 50 years of age and in certain instances over the age of 45. Further action should be taken only if one or both screening methodologies are abnormal. An abnormal PSA is defined as a PSA greater than 4.0 ng/ml. Patients suspected of having prostate cancer based on a PSA test and a DRE would then undergo additional radiographic and/or surgical tests to confirm the diagnosis. These additional tests include urology consultation, ultrasound, and tissue biopsy with pathological evaluation.

“One of the shortcomings of using serum PSA as a screening test for prostate cancer detection is the large number of false positive tests,” states Dr. Waters. Dr. Murphy recognized that these shortcomings would require further refinement of new methods for detection. Announcement of these patents provides evidence of our strong commitment to continue to build on his pioneering spirit of seeking the next best science in the early detection, treatment, and prevention of prostate cancer.”

The Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation is a not-for-profit cancer research foundation with offices and research facilities in Seattle, Washington and West Lafayette, Indiana. The Foundation specializes in the application of basic, comparative, and clinical research with particular emphasis on cancers of the bone and prostate.