Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have investigated a novel protein test to detect early-stage, asbestos-related pulmonary cancer. The test can accurately identify proteins secreted from cancerous tumors caused by asbestos exposure. The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 on April 4th.
In a blinded test performed under the sponsorship of the National Cancer Institute's Early Detection Research Network Biomarker Discovery Lab, researchers detected 15 of 19 cases of stage 1 or stage 2 malignant pleural mesothelioma. The study shows the test is approximately 80 percent sensitive in identifying disease. In addition, the specificity of the test was 100 percent with no false positives.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive, asbestos-related pulmonary cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs. Each year, the disease causes an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 deaths worldwide. It can be fatal within 14 months following diagnosis because of the advanced stage that it is typically found.
The goal of a new diagnostic test is to find the cancer early enough to effectively treat it, according to Harvey I. Pass, MD, director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center and the NYU Cancer Institute.
"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," said lead researcher Dr. Pass. "Moreover, when found early, the magnitude of the operation necessary to reduce the burden of disease may be less, making the patient better able to cope if the disease recurs and the patient needs more aggressive therapy."
The research team used the "Multiplex SOMAmer Assay" by SomaLogic, Inc. to examine 170 blood samples from 90 patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and 80 participants who were previously exposed to asbestos. The technology uses SOMAmers, chemically modified single-stranded DNA molecules to bind specifically to target proteins , to identify and quantify biomarkers.
According to Dr. Pass, this test measures 19 protein biomarkers for malignant pleural mesothelioma and is able to find and quantify the small amount of proteins secreted by tumor cells. Ongoing studies are refining the test and validating the results in other patient blood samples.
About NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class patient-centered integrated academic medical center, is one of the nation's premier centers for excellence in health care, biomedical research, and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is comprised of three hospitals—Tisch Hospital, a 705-bed acute-care tertiary facility, Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the first rehabilitation hospital in the world, with 174 beds and extensive outpatient rehabilitation programs, and the 190-bed Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the world dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology—plus the NYU School of Medicine, one of the nation's preeminent academic institutions. For more information, visit http://www.med.nyu.edu/.