Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Method for Diagnosing or Treating Prostate and Breast Cancer

Technology #3259


According to the American Cancer Society, prostate and breast cancer have the highest rate of new diagnosis in the US with approximately 200,000 new diagnoses for each every year. There is a great need for tools and therapeutics that reliably detect and inhibit these cancers. Recent studies have indicated that more malignant prostate and breast cancer cell lines secrete vimentin, an abundant intermediate filament protein presumed to play a role in stabilizing the architecture of cells. Since high levels of vimentin expression are associated with invasive and metastatic human prostate cancers as well as other malignancies, the protein may be a good target for a therapeutic or diagnostic.


In assaying vimentin secretion in various prostate cell lines, University of Michigan researchers have found that vimentin secretion strongly correlates with aggressivenessand invasiveness of cancerous cells. An ELISA assay developed by this group can monitor vimentin levels in urine and serve as a diagnostic tool in the detection or staging of prostate cancer. Also, inhibition of the function of secreted vimentin by antibodies or small molecule inhibitors may serve as a new therapy for the treatment of cancers of the prostate, breast, and other organs. Since vimentin knockout mice thrive under normal conditions, it would appear that agents that inhibit vimentin expression or function may prove to be well-tolerated by patients.

Applications and Advantages


  • Diagnostic for presence and staging of-nl-prostate and other cancers
  • Potential therapeutic target for the-nl-treatment of invasive and aggressive cancers.


  • Detection of increased vimentin expression-nl-can be easily assayed in patients’ urine.
  • Targeted protein knockdown suggests that-nl-a therapeutic treatment to decrease vimentin-nl-protein will have no major side effects.