Research

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Research into mitochondrial genetics at Newcastle University has led to a new test for prostate cancer which detects some tumours that conventional testing could miss.

VIDEO: Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in males worldwide but is often treatable if detected early. 

Professor Mark Birch-Machin, working with scientists from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada, has developed a novel test to improve the efficiency and reliability of this crucial diagnosis.

First test of its kind helps save lives

The Prostate Core Mitomic Test™ (PCMT™) is the first of its kind in the world and has been helping to save lives since its commercial launch in North American in 2011.

The highly sensitive test uses the science of mitochondrial DNA to accurately determine the absence or presence of cancerous cells in prostate tissue.

Photo of Professor Mark Birch-Machin
Photo of Professor Mark Birch-Machin

Detects cancer often missed

Even if a biopsy needle misses a tumour and the tissue appears normal, PCMT™ can still identify the presence of cancer because it works by detecting deletions of mitochondrial DNA that would occur if a tumour is nearby.

 Professor Birch-Machin said, "It is rewarding to know that our science is benefitting people."

It is particularly useful for patients whose symptoms lead medics to suspect they are suffering from prostate cancer but who record a negative biopsy result using traditional test methods.

The test uses existing biopsy tissue, meaning there is no need for patients to undergo further

  • pain
  • anxiety
  • possible infections
  • complications associated with additional tissue sampling

Opportunities now exist to use this work as a platform to conduct further studies into other tumours and even use the findings to develop an early warning system of cancer.

Discover More

  • Read Professor Mark Birch-Machin’s full list of publications and research interests
  • His research focuses on the context of skin ageing and cancer, particularly involving the role of mitochondria. Multi-million funding sources include Cancer Research UK, the British Skin Foundation and global commercial companies

Contact Information

Professor Mark Birch-Machin
Email: mark.birch-machin@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5841