If it can be made widely available, such a test has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of this intractable cancer.
Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) May 03, 2013
Surviving Mesothelioma reports that researchers from among the world’s top cancer centers say they have developed a test capable of recognizing the molecular “fingerprint” of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Surviving Mesothelioma reports that researchers from among the world’s top cancer centers say they have developed a test capable of recognizing the molecular “fingerprint” of malignant pleural mesothelioma. If it can be made widely available, such a test has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of this intractable cancer.
Although mesothelioma is one of the rarest of rare cancers, it is almost universally fatal, largely because it is not typically diagnosed until in its late stages. Pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that spreads quickly across the membranes that surround the lungs, is often difficult to distinguish from other types of non-cancerous lung diseases. Valuable treatment time is often wasted while trying to determine the source of a patient’s vague symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath. By the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, it may be much harder for conventional treatments to slow its progression.
That is why top mesothelioma doctors from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Virginia Tech are testing a method of reading the gene expression of mesothelioma, to diagnose the disease on a molecular level. The group conducted microarray analyses on 113 specimens, including malignant pleural mesothelioma as well as other types of cancerous and benign tissues. They used the samples to generate “a sequential combination of binary gene expression ratio tests able to discriminate malignant pleural mesothelioma from other thoracic malignancies”.
The new test was then validated using an independent set of 170 tissue samples. The teams report that these “sequential gene ratio tests” were able to identify mesothelioma with high sensitivity and specificity. The molecular tests had the added advantage of being able to distinguish the epithelioid variety of mesothelioma from the sarcomatoid type which would affect treatment decisions. They even report identifying novel genes and pathways that are only activated in malignant pleural mesothelioma.
In a summary of the findings published recently in Clinical Cancer Research, the scientists concluded that the research may have important implications, not only for mesothelioma diagnostics, but for distinguishing other types of cancer, as well.