A team of researchers and scientists from around the world has been working hard to find identifying markers released by mesothelioma cells. Discovering this type of biomarker may be a tremendous aid in diagnosing mesothelioma, and may even lead to a definitive blood test that can diagnose the disease earlier than has previously been available.
The research team is made up of participants from Switzerland, Chile, Italy and the United States, and was led by Ferdinando Cerciello and Bernd Wollscheid. The results of their hard work were recently published in an e-publication called “Clinical Proteomics” – a print version will be available shortly.
The team’s work was aimed at closely examining the surface of mesothelioma cancer cells in order to determine whether the cells have any kind of signature that could be used to identify them in diagnostic blood tests.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that strikes those who have been exposed to asbestos. Most exposures occur in occupational settings, as asbestos was widely used in industrial setting in the United States for the first half of the 20th century. Though its use was curtailed, people are still being diagnosed with the disease at the rate of approximately 2,500 every year – the reason for this is that it can take several decades for the cancer to make itself known.
In most cases the cancer has progressed to such an extensive degree by the time it is diagnosed that treatment is difficult. Finding a way of identifying the disease earlier could go a long way towards helping treat the disease more effectively.
Mesothelioma cells are known to have mesothelin present within their bodies, but mesothelin is also present in other cancers also. The scientific team as looking for a signature protein that would be unique to mesothelioma cells.
They used a new technology called Selected Reaction Monitoring (SRM) to examine the cells, and successfully identified a signature. The SRM test looked for the signature proteins in glycoproteins released by the mesothelioma cells into the bloodstream, and were able to find them.
This is a breakthrough result, as they were able to create a test looking for that signature. The team will work further to create a way to transfer the technology and results into an easily administered blood test.