Our cells contain two types of DNA; the first, and most renowned, is nuclear DNA and the second, lesser-known type is mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This mtDNA is circular and is contained within the structures that are responsible for producing energy in our cells, called mitochondria.
The chemical reactions that take place inside the mitochondria produce highly reactive individual oxygen molecules, which often damage and lead to mutations in mtDNA. Unlike nuclear DNA, there are hundreds of copies of mtDNA in our cells, and there’s no need for this damage to be repaired, so the mutated copies of mtDNA build up over time.
One specific mtDNA mutation has been shown to be indicative of prostate cancer and, using a technique known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), scientists are able to detect this mutation. PCR works by exponentially multiplying this ‘target sequence’ of mutated DNA and then uses a special dye, which fluoresces when it binds to the target sequence, to quantify it.
Mitomic® technology measures the levels of fluorescence to give a clear yes or no outcome – the brighter the signal, the more target sequence is present, and above a certain point, the sample is likely to be associated with clinically significant prostate cancer.