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"I've been exposed to asbestos, do I have meso?"

09-30-2010

Discovery of New Biomarkers May Lead to Test for Early Detection of Mesothelioma

We hear the question countless times from newfound friends, “I know I have been exposed to asbestos in the past, is there any test out there that can determine if I have cancer or mesothelioma?”

Until a few years ago, there was no such test. However, recently several doctors and clinics have researched ways of determining the existence of mesothelioma markers in the blood.

In 2005, new developments using a blood serum marker were used to detect cancer in a longitudinal study in Libby, Montana.

Later that year, results from a study conducted by researchers at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine revealed the mesomark assay, the world's first and only in vitro test for monitoring mesothelioma. This program was developed by Fujirebio Diagnostics, Inc. It was an effective way to measure proteins within the blood that reflect changes in disease. The findings represented a major milestone in the management of mesothelioma, as the test hoped to enable doctors to more accurately monitor patients for treatment.

This week, the biotech company Somalogic announced 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.

Scientists tested 357 serum samples from patients diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer. The results were compared to controls consisting of subjects exposed to asbestos, high-risk smokers, and those with benign lung disease. If this technology proves reliable it could be used in a screening process for people with a history of asbestos exposure

Rachel Ostroff, Ph.D., of SomaLogic in Boulder, Colorado said "Detection of these aggressive cancers at an earlier stage would identify patients for early treatment, which may improve their survival and quality of life."

Knowing if and when the enemy will strike always helps in developing a battle plan for victory.

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

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