Noninvasive Test for Early Mesothelioma Detection Introduced

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a new peer-reviewed study recently published in PLOS ONE. Researchers aimed to find a new and efficient noninvasive surveillance tool to help catch mesothelioma in its earliest stages.

Researchers conducted the case-controlled studies in numerous health care centers, collecting serum from 117 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma and 142 asbestos-exposed individuals without mesothelioma. They discovered and later validated a SOMAmer (Slow Off-rate Modified Aptamers) biomarker panel, which simultaneously measures more than 1,000 different proteins in patient serum samples. Using this new technology, researchers discovered 64 new candidate protein biomarkers for mesothelioma detection.

Those diagnosed with mesothelioma, of which there are about 3,000 per year in the United States, are typically given less than a year to live. This extraordinarily poor prognosis is due to the cancer’s insidious nature, as it takes 20 to 50 years to develop and is often the result of occupational exposure to asbestos, which is not always evident as it is occurring. Diagnosis is also difficult because it depends on invasive sampling and imaging procedures that are expensive and expose patients to much radiation.

There are a few blood-based biomarkers physicians use for diagnosis, such as mesothelin and osteopontin, however, mesothelin has a low sensitivity for early disease detection (32%). Similarly, osteopontin is largely instable and leads to inconsistent results. Thus, there is still an immense need for a highly specific and noninvasive test for early detection.

Once biomarkers were identified, targeted panels for diagnosis methods can be assembled using the SOMAmers, which have chemical and thermal stability properties similar to DNA. SOMAmers usually bind to large portions of their protein target and have a high sensitivity.

In analysis, the patient’s serum samples were analyzed using SOMAmers that specifically bind to protein targets that would indicate the presence of mesothelioma. Candidate biomarkers were ranked, and thirteen proteins were used to construct a random classifier. Researchers analyzed a total of 259 serum samples, and analysis yielded a set of 64 unique biomarkers.

Overall, Stage I mesotheliomas were detected with 77% accuracy, Stage II with 93%, Stage III with 96%, and Stage IV with 96% accuracy. Mesothelioma is potentially curable in Stages I and II, which had an average correct detection rate of 88%, which demonstrates that the classifiers can identify the large majority of mesothelioma patients who are most likely to be successfully treated.

The ability of the SOMAmers to identify mesothelioma was not compromised by chemotherapy prior to the blood draw; for example, ten patients received chemotherapy before their samples were taken and eight of them were correctly identified as having mesothelioma. Among the 259 samples tested, there were only eight false negatives.

The study author highlighted that, in the next 25 years, it is estimated that the prevalence of mesothelioma will increase by five to ten percent each year, and cost the United States $200 billion. Since 1973, federal authorities have mandated that individuals with occupational asbestos exposure be monitored routinely. The research group recently started further validation studies in high-risk patients.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm hope these researchers have made a significant discovery that will help the thousands of Americans previously exposed to asbestos. Our health centers are in dire need of better detection methods for this disease. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness, you have important legal rights. Our attorneys have decades of experience working with victims of asbestos exposure and their families, and ensure you will receive the largest settlement possible.