A protein that is found in the brain and other tissues has been linked directly to malignant mesothelioma, making it easier for physicians to diagnose the condition, as well as to craft a tailored course of treatment and set expectations for patients as to their prognosis. The protein is a biomarker known as BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and researchers from the University of Nantes in Western France discovered that though it is present in many types of cancer, there is no form of cancer in which it is found in higher levels than in the rare asbestos-related disease, thus leading the researchers to refer to it as “a hallmark of malignant pleural mesothelioma.” In addition to learning that BDNF is found in higher levels in mesothelioma than in other cancers, the researchers also found that those mesothelioma patients in whom BDNF levels were highest were found to have the shortest survival time.
Mesothelioma patients can be tested for BDNF levels without biopsy
One of the biggest advantages in finding that BDNF is such an accurate biomarker for malignant mesothelioma is that a patient can be tested for it without having to undergo an invasive biopsy procedure. BDNF is what is known as a soluble biomarker, and that means that it is found in body fluid. Another advantage is that BDNF is found in all types of malignant mesothelioma, regardless of whether the patient is diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, or rarer types such as pericardial and testicular.
High levels of biomarker linked to shorter survival period
In analyzing the utility of BDNF levels in the tissues and lung fluid of patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the French researchers found that the higher the BDNF levels, the lower the survival time. Speaking of their research, lead study author Patrick Smeele said, “Patients with high BDNF had a lower survival than patients with low BDNF (15.9 versus 21.1 months, p?=?0.0736) and this survival difference is significant at 3 years.” He theorized that BDNF may play a role in the way that the cancer metastasizes, though he and his colleagues still have questions as to what the exact interchange between BDNF and mesothelioma is. Previous studies on BDNF have led scientists to believe that it is an element in the development of the blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, you know what a challenge it can be to get a quick diagnosis or an accurate prognosis. Research like that being done on BDNF represents significant progress. For information on other discoveries and resources associated with this rare form of cancer, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.