29 February 2012

Treatment Could Detect Mesothelioma and Pancreatic Cancer

U.S. scientists have found specific changes in the blood of two patients with fatal cancer that allow physicians to diagnose these diseases before.

With a new imaging technology Somalogic Inc., a research company said it could detect early signs of pancreatic cancer and a type of lung tumor called mesothelioma patients still untreated.

"These cancers are detected at an advanced stage when the possibility of cure is minimal," said Rachel Ostroff, director of clinical research and Somalogic responsible for presenting the results at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research Inc..

"The detection of these aggressive cancers at an early stage would identify patients to provide treatment that improves survival and quality of life," he said.

Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, but it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Mesothelioma caused by asbestos, killed between 15,000 and 20,000 people per year worldwide.

The latter is characterized by affecting the mesothelium, a membrane lining the body cavities of several: the (abdominal cavity lining) peritoneal tunica vaginalis, and pericardium (lining of the heart), but the vast majority of cases originate of the pleura (membrane lining the chest cavity and lungs).

People exposed to asbestos for a long time or exposed to high levels of asbestos have a higher risk of developing malignant mesothelioma, but even those who are exposed for a short time can develop this disease, which tends to shows a long period of time after exposure: less than 15 years (generally 20 to 40 years) after. This disease is usually diagnosed between 50 and 70 years, men beign more likely to contract the disease (they are more likely to be exposed to asbestos).

New technology detects the disease by analyzing proteins in a drop of blood. Tests using the genetic material Somalogic fragments that bind to proteins. Somalogic developing technology that achieves these molecules join specific proteins.

The team analyzed blood samples from cancer patients and control groups (with diseases that produce symptoms similar to those of cancers such as lung fibrosis or pancreatitis).

The researchers used computer models to identify important biological differences, or biomarkers, blood samples distinguished cancer patients in the control group.

For both cancers, the researchers found biomarkers of high precision and specificity for detection of each type of cancer. Now it is confirmed by other studies to ensure the reading of diagnostic tests.

"It is very easy to discover biomarkers, validate, it's on the other hand, difficult," said Ostroff, who announced that the team will analyze several factors that could generate false positives, such as age a sample in a grid before submitting to the test.

"We will analyze enough parameters to ensure that we study biomarkers of disease," concluded the researcher.