Bio-tech firm recruiting Yukon men for trial, Prostate cancer group says it could save lives

An bio-technology company based in Alberta is testing a new process that could result in fewer Yukon men travelling out of territory for prostate cancer biopsies.

Private research company Nanostics Inc. and the University of Alberta created a simple blood test that measures cancer cells and recognizes aggressive prostate cancer.

The company says the test allows men to bypass painful biopsies.

Nanostics plans to test the blood samples of 2,800 men, including 200 Yukoners, as part of a clinical validation study. 

Catalina Vasquez, chief operating officer of Nanostics, was in Whitehorse this week training hospital staff about the test and enrolment process.

"We're looking for men between the ages of 40 and 75 years old, who have a PSA [prostate-specific antigen] level between three and 10 and who will undergo a biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer," she said. 

The test is supported by Ride For Dad, a national group that raises money for prostate cancer awareness and research. 

Sean Secord, co-chair of the Yukon chapter of Ride For Dad and the clinical research co-ordinator for this project, said the test could save Yukoners' lives.

"To be able to find cells that are going to metastasize before they do and be able to treat them, that's huge — it's lifesaving," he said. 

"To be part of that at the ground level, here in the Yukon, that's so exciting." 

If the test passes the validation study, Vasquez said it will be made available nationally and internationally.

Men interested in learning more about the test can contact the Yukon chapter of Ride For Dad.