Researchers Say SMRP Not Predictive for Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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A study of Italian workers finds that the mesothelioma biomarker SMRP will not help detect the disease earlier.

Our results did not support the usefulness of SMRP as an early marker for the detection of the disease.

New research published in the journal Oncology and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma says a peptide used to help distinguish mesothelioma from other cancers is not likely to be useful as a way to predict development of the disease.

Mesothelioma is a rare but virulent cancer of internal membranes that is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. Thousands of people, primarily industrial workers, are diagnosed with the disease every year. There is no cure. In an effort to find a predictive biomarker for mesothelioma, Italian researchers performed blood tests for soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP) on 1,715 asbestos-exposed workers over a median period of 47.1 months.

The initial median SMRP level for the Italian workers was 0.45 nmol/l. Study subjects were tested again and underwent physical examinations at one and two years later. A total of 1,536 subjects underwent both follow-up visits. At a median of 9 to 17 months after their last SMRP test and follow-up exam, three patients were diagnosed with epithelioid mesothelioma, the most common type of the disease. Unfortunately, these patients' SMRP levels showed no indication that they would develop mesothelioma.

“Our results did not support the usefulness of SMRP as an early marker for the detection of the disease for a time interval of 1 year,” they conclude in the journal Oncology. These mesothelioma patients had Initial SMRP levels that ranged from 0.17 to 0.52 nmol/l. No variation was seen in their follow-up visits. The 61 workers who went on to develop other types of cancer had a median initial SMRP level of 0.50 nmol/l.

SMRP derived from excess lung fluid (pleural effusions) has been used to help diagnose mesothelioma, which is often difficult to distinguish from other types of cancer. Because mesothelioma has such a lengthy latency period, researchers hope that a predictive biomarker might make it possible to delay or even prevent the disease from developing.

The original study appears in the recent issue of Oncology. (Filiberti, R, “Is Soluble Mesothelin-Related Protein an Upfront Predictive Marker of Pleural Mesothelioma? A Prospective Study on Italian Workers Exposed to Asbestos”, December 21, 2013, Oncology, Epub ahead of print,

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 Monthly
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