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Innovative Diagnostics Offer Hope for Mesothelioma Patients

A new clinical study is underway to determine whether mesothelioma can be diagnosed through the use of a blood and urine test, rather than a painful and invasive biopsy. According to reports, scientists from the City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center, are collaborating with researchers from Trovagene, Inc. to determine whether the company’s Precision Cancer Monitoring platform will be able to effectively identify a specific biomarker in bodily fluids.

Traditionally, physicians have used tissue removed from a pleural mesothelioma patient’s lung in order to determine cell type and other characteristics needed in selecting the most effective course of treatment. The biopsy is an invasive and painful procedure, and it has long been the dream of patients and physicians alike that the same information would become available in a more accessible way. The Trovagene test would identify specific epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) that are frequently found at very high levels on the surface of cancer cells. EGFR is a protein, and pleural mesothelioma patients have been found to have it present on their cells over fifty percent of the time. The aim of the study is to determine whether EGFR can be identified from urine and blood samples rather than from tissue samples. If it can, then the need for biopsies would be eliminated.

According to Mark Erlander, Ph.D., and chief scientific officer at Trovagene, “Enabling physicians to detect the emergence of problematic mutations in real time is a key benefit of our Precision Cancer Monitoring platform. We are pleased to be working with City of Hope, a world class institution, to demonstrate the utility of our T790M assay in a setting where timely information can potentially lead to better treatment decisions and outcomes.”

The Trovagene study is indicative of the importance of biomarker testing, which is one of the most important focuses in cancer research today. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network says that this type of testing will be extremely valuable to physicians in choosing which treatments will be most effective and have the fewest side effects for an individual patient. Mihaela Cristea, M.D. and associate professor in City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program is the lead investigator in the study. The physician said, “This is a first step in the right direction. In the future, we hope, for lung cancer and other cancers, we can detect these mutations in blood and urine, saving people the trouble of biopsies.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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