Slovenian Researchers Say Usefulness of Diagnostic Biomarker for Mesothelioma Varies

When mesothelioma takes hold in a patient’s body, one of the first things that occurs is a breakdown of proteins in the mesothelial membranes. When that happens, a peptide known as SMRP, which stands for soluble mesothelin-related peptides, is produced. Patients with mesothelioma and other illnesses have higher levels of SMRP in their bloodstream, and as a result testing for the biomarker SMRP is one of the tools that doctors rely upon to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis. But Slovenian researchers have found that there are genetic variables that impact the test’s usefulness.

Genetics Influence Usefulness of Biomarker Test for Mesothelioma

Though physicians have relied upon extremely high levels of SMRP as an indication that mesothelioma may be present, they also know that not all mesothelioma tumors create high levels of the peptide. Adding to this complexity, a study by Slovenian researchers has also found that different patients naturally show different levels of SMRP based on their genetics. 

The study focused on MSLRN rs1057147, a gene that encodes for the mesothelin protein. In looking for abnormalities on the gene, the researchers ran SMRP tests on nearly 800 participants, 154 of whom had malignant mesothelioma. 

Study Identifies Role of Abnormal Gene Allele in Mesothelioma

In examining the genes of the study participants, the researchers found that those who did not have mesothelioma but who had an abnormality on one or both MSLN allele had higher SMRP levels than those that had two normal gene alleles. While mesothelioma patients had the same high level of SMRP regardless of whether they had the gene anomaly or not, they found that mesothelioma patients who had at least one MSRN gene allele with the anomaly had shorter survival times.

Upon reviewing their findings, the scientists are suggesting that in the future physicians should test both for SMRP levels and the genetic anomaly in order to guide their assessment of a patient’s condition and prognosis.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or if you are at risk, it is important to have access to the best tools and resources available. Contact the Patient Advocates at at to learn about how we can help.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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