INNOVATE: A prospective cohort study combining serum and urinary biomarkers with novel diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging for the prediction and characterization of prostate cancer

BMC Cancer. 2016 Oct 21;16(1):816. doi: 10.1186/s12885-016-2856-2.


Background: Whilst multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (mp-MRI) has been a significant advance in the diagnosis of prostate cancer, scanning all patients with elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels is considered too costly for widespread National Health Service (NHS) use, as the predictive value of PSA levels for significant disease is poor. Despite the fact that novel blood and urine tests are available which may predict aggressive disease better than PSA, they are not routinely employed due to a lack of clinical validity studies. Furthermore approximately 40 % of mp-MRI studies are reported as indeterminate, which can lead to repeat examinations or unnecessary biopsy with associated patient anxiety, discomfort, risk and additional costs.

Methods/design: We aim to clinically validate a panel of minimally invasive promising blood and urine biomarkers, to better select patients that will benefit from a multiparametric prostate MRI. We will then test whether the performance of the mp-MRI can be improved by the addition of an advanced diffusion-weighted MRI technique, which uses a biophysical model to characterise tissue microstructure called VERDICT; Vascular and Extracellular Restricted Diffusion for Cytometry in Tumours. INNOVATE is a prospective single centre cohort study in 365 patients. mp-MRI will act as the reference standard for the biomarker panel. A clinical outcome based reference standard based on biopsy, mp-MRI and follow-up will be used for VERDICT MRI.

Discussion: We expect the combined effect of biomarkers and VERDICT MRI will improve care by better detecting aggressive prostate cancer early and make mp-MRI before biopsy economically viable for universal NHS adoption.

Trial registration: INNOVATE is registered on, with reference NCT02689271 .

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers, Tumor*
  • Biopsy
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / urine*
  • Research Design
  • Workflow


  • Biomarkers, Tumor

Associated data