Biomarkers are a key part of improving outcomes for mesothelioma patients. These biological signposts found in a patient’s blood, lung fluid, or tissue can not only help doctor’s diagnose the disease but can also point the way toward the treatments that are most likely to be effective.
Unfortunately, there are few good biomarkers for mesothelioma, a treatment-resistant cancer for which the only known cause is exposure to asbestos. But a new study suggests that that might be on the verge of changing.
Researchers in Denmark and Norway analyzed the list of what they call “front line” biomarkers that are either being used now or are being tested for use in the future. The current gold standard for malignant pleural mesothelioma diagnosis is a combination of two positive and two negative immunohistochemical markers. The presence of the protein mesothelin in the blood or pleural fluid is often used to back up a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
But, although there are relatively few mesothelioma biomarkers available now, the authors say there are a “plethora” of new ones being tested. Among the potential candidates are:
– Circulating proteomic and microRNA signatures
– Tumor cell/gene ratio test
– Deformability cytometry
Also in development are gene tests that may be able to help determine which mesothelioma patients are most likely to respond to a particular type of chemotherapy drug. The authors conclude that, although the current state of mesothelioma biomarkers is “not satisfactory”, the fact that more sensitive and specific non-invasive markers are emerging is encouraging.