[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 9-Mar-2009
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Contact: Dorie Klissas
dorie.klissas@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

Study shows microRNA-based diagnostic identifies squamous lung cancer with 96 percent sensitivity

A new study shows for the first time that a microRNA-based diagnostic test can objectively identify squamous lung cancer with 96% sensitivity, according to Harvey Pass, M.D. of the NYU Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center, one of the authors of the study published on-line ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In a paper titled, "Diagnostic Assay Based on has-miR-205 Expression Distinguishes Squamous From Non-Squamous Non-Small-Cell Lung Carcinoma," researchers looked at 252 patients with lung cancer and sent their tumor samples to a lab where a single microRNA biomarker identified squamous lung carcinomas with 96% sensitivity and 90% specificity. This is important because studies have shown that as many as 30% of squamous lung cancers are misclassified. If the type of lung cancer is not identified correctly, patients may have side effects due to treatment and medications. For example, squamous lung cancer carries increased risk of severe or fatal bleeding for certain targeted biological therapies including Bevacizumab (Avastin) and other drugs in development. Other approved therapies such as Pemetrexed (Alimta) are indicated for non-squamous lung cancer only.

The study, funded by Rosetta Genomics, was conducted at the NYU Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center in collaboration with researchers from Columbia University and Sheba Medical Center.

"The results of this study are very encouraging," says Harvey Pass, MD, professor of cardiothoracic surgery and director, thoracic surgery and oncology at the NYU Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center. "The study has demonstrated that a microRNA biomarker successfully identifies squamous lung cancer with high reproducibility, sensitivity and specificity. "The study certainly demonstrates the power of microRNAs in correctly classifying lung cancer and hopefully can immediately translate into more accurate choices of targeted therapies as well as cytotoxics for the disease."

Dr. Pass is the Vice chairman medical advisory board for Rosetta Genomics (Nasdaq: ROSG), the company who makes a test based on the same microRNA biomarker that was evaluated by the study. The test offers similar accuracy (97% sensitivity) and is now commercially available through Rosetta Genomics CLIA-certified lab in Philadelphia.

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About NYU Langone Medical Center

Located in the heart of New York City, NYU Langone Medical Center is a premier center for health care, biomedical research, and medical education. For over 167 years, NYU physicians and researchers have contributed to the practice and science of medicine. Today the Medical Center consists of NYU School of Medicine; Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the first and largest facility of its kind; NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, a leader in musculoskeletal care; and such nationally recognized programs as the NYU Cancer Institute, the NYU Child Study Center, and the NYU Cardiac and Vascular Institute.

About NYU Cancer Institute

The NYU Cancer Institute is an NCI-designated cancer center. Its mission is to discover the origins of human cancer and to use that knowledge to eradicate the personal and societal burden of cancer in our community, the nation and the world. The center and its multidisciplinary team of experts provide access to the latest treatment options and clinical trials along with a variety of programs in cancer prevention, screening, diagnostics, genetic counseling and supportive services. For additional information, please visit: www.nyuci.org.

For more information about the NYU Cancer Institute, please contact Jennifer Berman at 212-263-8670 or Jennifer.Berman@nyumc.org.



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