Identifying Mesothelioma: How Extracellular Vesicles Could Be the Key

Identifying Mesothelioma: How Extracellular Vesicles Could Be the Key

Scientists believe that particles called extracellular vesicles could be used as biomarkers to identify malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, usually at work. It has a low survival rate, so it is important to find ways to diagnose it early. It is also important for doctors to be able to predict how it will develop in patients.

How Mesothelioma is Diagnosed

Mesothelioma is usually diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because they are experiencing symptoms. For MPM, a person might feel shortness of breath due to fluid around the lung, chest pain, cough, and fatigue.

Doctors diagnose mesothelioma with a few different procedures. They might perform a scan on a patient first. This is usually an x-ray or a CT scan.

Once they find a potential cancer site, the doctor needs to remove part of the tissue to take a closer look. The doctor will perform a biopsy to get the sample. This usually involves an invasive surgery.

How Extracellular Vesicles Could be Used

Scientists in Australia are studying tiny particles called extracellular vesicles that are released by cancer cells. These particles are produced by both cancerous and healthy cells and help cells to communicate with each other. Extracellular vesicles could be used as biomarkers to help with diagnosis and treatment decisions.

To further explore this, the scientists analyzed different types of extracellular vesicles from malignant pleural mesothelioma cells and compared them to normal cells.

They discovered that each type of extracellular vesicle had different proteins inside them. Most importantly, the scientists found new proteins that are associated with malignant pleural mesothelioma, including mesothelin.

The scientists believe that analyzing proteins in extracellular vesicles could help to identify biomarkers for MPM from simple blood tests. These biomarkers may be able to help doctors reach a faster diagnosis, determine prognosis, and create effective treatment plans.


Ahmadzada T, Vijayan A, Vafaee F, et al. Small and Large Extracellular Vesicles Derived from Pleural Mesothelioma Cell Lines Offer Biomarker Potential. Cancers (Basel). 2023;15(8):2364. Published 2023 Apr 18. doi:10.3390/cancers15082364. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/15/8/2364

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