Counting the number of copies of this gene in urothelial cells correctly identified 23 cancer cases, says paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Scientists have determined that the overexpression of Aurora kinase A (AURKA) in urothelial cells indicates errors in cell division that specify the presence of bladder cancer. They also found that counting the copies of gene in cells from a urine sample could be used to detect bladder cancer.

A blinded analysis of samples identified all 23 cancer cases in the study, and correctly characterized six of seven controls as not having bladder cancer.

The biomarker test was validated in urine samples from a separate group of 100 bladder cancer patients and 148 controls. Blinded analysis showed that the biomarker accurately identified 87 of the cancer cases and characterized 96.6% of the controls as cancer-free, producing only five false positives.

Cytological analysis was conducted on additional samples from 59 of the cancer cases. Microscopic examination of the cells identified 48 of the 59 cancers. Of the 11 cases mischaracterized by cytology, nine were then correctly identified by the FISH AURKA test.

The team next hopes to develop an FDA-approved, commercially available test. That will require independent validation in prospective, multi-institutional clinical trials.

Researchers from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas Children’s Cancer Center, and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center collaborated on the research. The study appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and was funded by the NCI.

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