In the ongoing worldwide quest for an easier and more accurate way to diagnose malignant mesothelioma, one of the nation’s top mesothelioma research teams claims to have found a ‘promising’ new method.
The blood test, developed by SomaLogic, Inc. and tested at New York’s Lagone Medical Center, detects the presence and quantity of 19 different proteins (biomarkers) that can be secreted by tumor cells in the early stages of mesothelioma.
In National Cancer Institute-funded studies on the new test, researchers used 90 blood samples from patients who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and 80 samples from people who had been exposed to asbestos but did not have a mesothelioma diagnosis. The SomaLogic test accurately detected 15 out of 19 cases of stage one or two malignant pleural mesothelioma among the samples. The test was found to pick up the disease with 80 percent accuracy and produced no false positive results.
Lead researcher Harvey Pass, director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Lagone, says the test’s level of early stage accuracy is significant because “the only patients that seem to benefit from therapy in mesothelioma are those that are found in stage 1, and this is only 10 to 15 percent of patients.”
Mesothelioma is a malignancy of the mesothelial tissue surrounding internal organs. It spreads quickly and is caused by past exposure to asbestos – sometimes as long as 50 earlier. A multimodality treatment approach, with surgery as its basis, has been found to offer the best outcomes for the 2,000-3,000 people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Dr. Pass says earlier detection may make it possible for patients to have less radical surgery to control the cancer, giving them more treatment options even if the disease returns later.
The results of the testing on SomaLogic’s technique were presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando.
Pass, Harvey et al, “Detection of mesothelioma in asbestos exposed individuals with aptamer proteomic technology”, April 4, 2011, Presentation abstract, American Association for Cancer Research website,
“NYU Cancer Institute experts present at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011”, April 6, 2011, e!Science News website.