Searching For Reliable Biomarkers for the Early Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

According to recent findings of a 2012 German study, a microRNA identified as miR-103 could be a reliable biomarker for mesothelioma. This microRNA is a part of a group of microRNAs associated with cell division, stress response and the formation of new blood vessels, and showed promising sensitivity and specificity to malignant mesothelioma. The study suggests that deregulations of microRNAs may contribute to the development of human diseases. Published in the scientific journal PLoS One, the study stresses that to confirm these findings, miR-103 should be further investigated.

What is mesothelioma? Associated with asbestos exposure, this is a cancer of the lining of the lung and abdomen, incurable with present mesothelioma drugs. Because its symptoms may take as much as 20-50 to show, people affected may be clueless about their state. Symptoms in early stages are usually non-specific and when finally diagnosed, most patients are already in the final stages. Approximately 2,500-3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S. yearly, and it is estimated that by 2054, this number will rise to 71,000. This state of facts calls for the worldwide ardent search of mesothelioma centers, for new ways of early detection and mesothelioma treatment.

In their effort to identify reliable biomarkers sensitive enough to detect tumors at early stages and specific enough to avoid false positives, the German mesothelioma doctors also tried to use the least invasive method of observation. Their study included blood samples collected from 23 patients with aged 34-84, all diagnosed with malignant plural mesothelioma, and of who all had yet to undergo chemotherapy or radiation as part of treatment. Reportedly, in 75 percent to 80 percent of cases the presence of miR-103 was useful as a biomarker in distinguishing mesothelioma patients from cancer-free subjects.

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