In a study published in BMC Cancer, researchers asserted that, despite the prevalence of bladder cancer, the methods used to diagnose the malignancy are “invasive or limited in specificity and/or sensitivity.” The article, co-first authored by Qixun Fang and Xu Zhang, described the investigator’s development of a urine-based methylation panel for bladder cancer detection, termed P3, and the subsequent validation of the P3 panel with clinical samples.

The researchers began with the objective of improving previously published panels, and initially selected 19 potential panels from relevant investigations. The selected panels were reassessed after the team performed reduced-representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) on 45 samples, and the best markers were used to develop the new P3 panel. The P3 panel was applied to 33 samples from the RRBS dataset and the panel’s predictions were compared against recorded RRBS results.

According to the report, three biomarkers were ultimately chosen to construct the P3 panel: PCDH17, POU4F2, and PENK. After assessing the new panel P3, the study’s authors calculated a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 71% with RRBS in the corresponding cohort. When applied to a balanced cohort with a quantitative methylation specific PCR (qMSP) platform, the P3 panel performed even better, with 100% specificity and 84% sensitivity.

Finally, in the validation cohort of 207 samples, P3 with qMSP “showed a performance of 97% specificity and 87% sensitivity which was modestly improved compared to the panels it derided from,” leading the authors to support the new P3 panel’s value; Although, the authors did conceded that “further validation will be required for commercializing the panel on qMSP platform.”