Research Says New Biomarker Could Improve Diagnostic Accuracy in Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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The authors of a new study on blood biomarkers and mesothelioma say a panel approach, including several different proteins and glycoproteins, could save lives.

The addition of YKL-40 may improve the specificity of mesothelin measurements alone for detecting patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Surviving Mesothelioma is reporting on newly-published research showing that, in the diagnosis of mesothelioma, more biomarkers are better than one. Writing in a recent issue of Anticancer Research, the scientific team suggests that a glycoprotein called chitinase-3-like-1 (YKL-40) may be an especially valuable addition to the list of biomarkers typically used to diagnose the disease.

The study involved four groups – patients with mesothelioma, patients with asbestosis (lung scarring), patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and healthy controls. Blood tests were administered to each group to measure serum and plasma levels of a list of markers including mesothelin, fibulin-3, interleukin-8 (IL-8), endothelin-1, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and YKL-40.

Several of the biomarkers studied are known to be overexpressed in a number of different cancers. Mesothelin measurement, in particular, in often used to help diagnose mesothelioma. Cancers that overexpress the signal protein VEGF are more likely to grow and spread. And a study of fibulin-3 in 2012 found that it tended to be “significantly higher” in people with mesothelioma.

In the latest study, mesothelin was, once again, found to be an indicator of mesothelioma at levels of 1.26 nM or higher. Elevated serum levels of VEGF and IL-8 were also elevated in the mesothelioma patients. But the new study was the first to find that YKL-40 levels of 167 pg/ml or higher were also associated with mesothelioma. When both mesothelin and YKL-40 levels were higher than those cutoff values, the two measurements together made the test more accurate.

The authors conclude, “The addition of YKL-40 may improve the specificity of mesothelin measurements alone for detecting patients with malignant mesothelioma.” In cancer diagnostics, the term ‘specificity’ refers to a test’s ability to accurately determine which patients do not have the disease in question. Tests with improved sensitivity (ability to positively identify a disease) and specificity are needed for mesothelioma, which is rarely identified until in its later stages.

The original biomarker study appears in Anticancer Research. (Corradi, M, et al, “YKL-40 and Mesothelin in the Blood of Patients with Malignant Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Asbestosis,” December 2013, Anticancer Research, pp. 5517-5524.

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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