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Early classification of aggressive prostate cancers

Dr Melanie von Brandenstein, University Hospital of Cologne; Prof. Jochen Fries, University Hospital of Cologne; Dr Tobias Kohl, University Hopital of Cologne; Dr Monika Stefanie Schlosser, University Hospital of Cologne; Andreas Stog, University Hospital of Cologne



Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in males. An estimated 1.3 million men worldwide were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. The selection of the therapeutic strategy depends on the risk classification. There is a strong medical need to precisely identify those patients whose disease allows monitoring without therapeutic intervention, in order to avoid overtreatment, which comes along with high medical costs and loss of life quality.

The diagnosis, classification and therapy of prostate cancer are based on the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test value, the Gleason score from histology obtained by prostate biopsies and an imaging diagnosis from computer tomography and bone scintigraphy. The variability of prostate cancer ranges from low-risk tumors without progression over many years to high-risk tumors with rapid local progression and high metastasis potential. There is an association between an increasing Gleason score and the risk for metastases. However there is an ongoing search for new biomarkers that directly correlate with the risk for metastasis.


Vimentin 3 (Vim3) as a biomarker, which correlates with the risk of progression of prostate cancer. Results show high expression of Vim3 in cells of metastatic prostate and low expression in non-metastatic cancer, thus demonstrating the potential of Vim3 for risk stratification of localized prostate carcinoma to enable personalized therapy planning.

Vim3 is a truncated and biologically active variant of Vimentin. Healthy cells express the Vimentin full-length variant (Vim-fl) and are characterized by a functional cytoskeleton. If Vim-fl expression is decreased, Vim3 is predominantly detectable. In this case the intracellular structure of the cell is disordered due to the loss of the normal cytoskeletal architecture with the consequence that cells become deformable and consequently mobile.

Commercial Opportunity

The technology is offered for licensing and further development to companies in the diagnostics industry, specialized in tissue detection and those specialized in detection techniques for liquids (blood, serum).

Development Status

To date, 200 serum samples from prostate cancer patients, resection specimens and biopsies have been examined. A validation on about 800 serum samples is expected to be completed by the end of February 2019.

Patent Situation

An EP priority application has been filed on October 2, 2017. A PCT patent application, claiming the priority of the EP application has been filed on October 2, 2018.

The partial search report of the International Searching Authority (ISA) is positive: For the method for detection of a malignant tumour, based on the determination of Vim3 in a blood sample, the novelty and inventive step is recognised by the EPO examiner. The claim set for the detection of Vim3 in tissue can be pursued within a divisional application.

Further Reading

Von Brandenstein, M. et al. (2018) Tamoxifen Treatment in Correlation with Increased ET-1 Levels Is Associated with the Development of Breast Cancer Metastases. Journal of Cancer Therapy 9: 438-436
Von Brandenstein, M. et al. (2018) Beyond the 3’UTR binding: microRNA - induced protein truncation via DNA binding, Oncotarget 9: 32855-32867.
Kohl T, Brandenstein M v, Stog A, Schlosser M, Kuru T H, Pfister D, Fries J and Heidenreich A. Vimentin 3 and endothelin in prostate cancer. 2018; 2018:349-349.


Early classification of aggressive prostate cancers