In the battle against malignant mesothelioma, physicians and researchers agree that one of the biggest challenges of treating the rare form of cancer is the fact that it is so difficult to diagnose: the condition’s symptoms generally do not arise until the disease has advanced too far for treatment to be effective. In an effort to counter this characteristic, scientists have collected a significant amount of data from people who have a known exposure to asbestos in hopes that they can identify biomarkers that are present in the blood long before symptoms appear. Though it had previously been hoped that specific microRNAs, which are small molecules that carry genetic information, could be used to flag incipient mesothelioma, a recent study conducted in Germany has disproven the theory.
Test relied on data from large group of asbestos-related workers
Researchers at the Institute of the Ruhr University Bochum who had been conducting a 10-year study of asbestos-exposed German workers recently examined plasma samples from 17 participants who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The samples had been drawn several months before the patients’ asbestos-related disease had been diagnosed. Had the biomarkers been present in the sample, it would have been a positive indication that physicians treating patients at risk for mesothelioma could use their presence as an early indicator and offer patients longer survival time and more effective treatments.
Study finds microRNAs insufficient for early diagnosis
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the researchers used three different types of micro RNAs for their tests, they found that the samples were not effective as an early detection tool. According to study author Daniel Weber, “The analyzed miRNAs failed to detect the cancer in prediagnostic samples, showing that they are not feasible for the early detection of malignant mesothelioma.
Though finding an early sign that mesothelioma is present in the body remains a top priority, researchers and health advocates for those diagnosed with the disease have already made tremendous headway in other areas of treatment and improved quality of life. For information on these and other resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.