Israeli researchers hope that a new kind of cancer blood test could help detect mesothelioma and other malignancies earlier. Earlier diagnosis could lead to longer mesothelioma survival.
The blood test is based on the idea that immune system cells undergo metabolic changes when they fight a cancer like pleural mesothelioma.
Different kinds of changes are associated with different kinds of cancers. The new cancer blood test detects these changes.
Immune System Cells and Metabolism
The immune system is the body’s primary way of defending itself against diseases like malignant mesothelioma. Metabolism refers to the way immune system cells expend energy to fight cancer.
An Israeli company is developing the new cancer blood test. It focuses on the metabolism of immune system cells circulating in the blood. The theory is that the metabolism of these cells is different for different types of cancer.
The company developed a diagnostic kit using 16 chemical stimulants. When immune system cells in a patient’s blood come in contact with these stimulants, their metabolism is activated in a particular way.
The cancer blood test picked up Stage I lung cancer, which is hard to detect. If future clinical trials prove that it works, it could mean much earlier detection for mesothelioma, too.
Cancer Blood Test is Immunometabolism in Action
The experimental cancer blood test is a type of liquid biopsy. A liquid biopsy looks for cells in the blood that could indicate cancer. Most liquid biopsies depend on sequencing a patient’s genetic material.
“These kinds of tests are very good at defining disease and showing which genetic segments have been impacted. But they have difficulties when it comes to early detection at stages 1 and 2,” says Giora Davidovits, CEO of the company that developed the test.
The new cancer blood test is different. It is part of a new field called immunometabolism. It promises to identify cancer in hours instead of days or weeks.
Researchers tested the method on 100 lung cancer patients and 100 healthy patients. It correctly ruled out lung cancer 80 percent of the time. It correctly identified it 91 percent of the time.
“Our results clearly indicate that the proposed clinical model is suitable for non-invasive early lung cancer diagnosis, and is indifferent to lung cancer stage and histological type,” write the researchers.
The company is now starting to develop a similar cancer blood test for breast cancer. Eventually, it may be applied to malignant mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
Like lung cancer, mesothelioma is hard to diagnose early since it causes few symptoms. By the time patients have mesothelioma symptoms, it is often too late for effective treatment.
Adir, Yochai, et al, “Novel non-invasive early detection of lung cancer using liquid immunobiopsy metabolic activity profiles”, July 2018, Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, pp. 1135-1146, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00262-018-2173-5
Savicell Diagnostics, http://www.savicell.com/