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Discovery Of New Biomarkers May Lead To Test For Early Detection Of Mesothelioma

The biotech company Somalogic announced this week at the Fourth AACR International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development a new technology that could allow doctors to identify mesothelioma in patients before they show visible symptoms.

Somalogic scientists used blood samples from mesothelioma patients and were able to develop aptameters (oligonucleic acid or peptide molecules) that bind to proteins expressed by mesothelioma cells. These biomarkers are present in the blood at extremely low concentrations, so conventional chemical analysis cannot find them. The use of proteomics array technology and genetic material specific to the protein allows discovery of the disease early in its development.

Somalogic scientists report that they have identified 19 biomarkers for mesothelioma. They found a specificity of 100% for those markets. Sensitivity was 80%. If these numbers hold through further development, the diagnostic process would be able to identify the large majority of mesothelioma cases with some false positives.

If this technology proves reliable it could be used in a screening process for people with a history of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, but the latency period is very long and the symptoms often don’t manifest until the disease has progressed to a point where treatment options are limited. Early discovery of mesothelioma would give doctors and patients more options and improve the prognosis of those afflicted the disease.

According to Somalogic clinical research director Rachel Ostroff, Ph.D., “Validation studies are underway, which we hope will lead to the development of diagnostic tests that hold clinical benefits for patients."

We will update this story when the results of the next round of studies are published.

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