Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Elevated blood levels of a protein are linked to asbestos-induced cancers

13.10.2005


Researchers at New York University School of Medicine and Wayne State University have found a molecule that reveals the early stages of pleural mesothelioma, a chest cancer caused by asbestos. The finding opens the way to a blood test for the disease, according to a new study published in the Oct. 13 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.



An estimated 7.5 million workers in the United States have been exposed to asbestos and, according to government statistics, it remains a hazard to some 1.3 million workers in construction and building maintenance.

There has been no way to reliably screen for this type of cancer, particularly in its early stages when treatment may be more successful. The blood test could help to monitor people at risk of developing cancer due to asbestos exposure, says Harvey Pass, M.D., Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Professor of Surgery at NYU School of Medicine, and the lead author of the study.


"The levels of a protein called osteopontin rise dramatically in the early stage of this disease," says Dr. Pass. So, he says, "a rise in the level of this biomarker in workers with past asbestos exposure may indicate to physicians that these people need to be followed even more closely for the development of cancer."

Pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that invades the lining of the chest cavity and the lining of the lungs, usually develops in people who have been exposed to asbestos, such as foundry workers, pipe fitters, shipbuilders, miners, electricians, factory workers, firefighters, as well as construction workers who have used asbestos-containing materials. It often takes decades to develop.

"There are hotspots across the world where this type of cancer is clustered," says Dr. Pass. Such clusters are in the Wittenoom district of Perth, in Western Australia, which has one of the highest incidences of mesothelioma, he says. Other hotspots include Libby, Montana, regions in Quebec, Canada, in France and in Turkey.

Blood levels of a protein called osteopontin

In the new study, Dr. Pass and colleagues found that blood levels of osteopontin were significantly higher in patients who had pleural mesothelioma compared to individuals who were exposed to asbestos and are at risk for developing the cancer.

The study involved 190 patients. Sixty-nine had asbestos-related nonmalignant disease, such as inflammation which leads to scarring in the lung and plaques on the lining surrounding the lungs; 45 were current or former smokers, who had no previous exposure to asbestos; and 76 patients suffered from pleural mesothelioma and were undergoing surgery.

Those individuals exposed to asbestos for less than 10 years showed the lowest levels of osteopontin. Those levels doubled in people with more than 10 years of exposure. The osteopontin levels rose as changes on their lungs, such as scarring, which were revealed on X rays, became more pronounced. In the patients with documented pleural mesothelioma, blood levels of osteopontin jumped--rising six-fold, even in the earliest stage (stage I) of the disease.

Further research needs to be done to determine the exact levels of the blood that would be used in screening tests for pleural mesothelioma, he says, and validation tests are in the planning stages. "What is crucial," Dr. Pass says, "is that the marker is very encouraging specifically in asbestos-related early-stage disease."

About pleural mesothelioma and the biomarker

The outlook for pleural mesothelioma patients who are diagnosed late is often grim: they may live only 9 to 12 months. Sadly, fewer than 5 percent of mesothelioma cases are detected early. "There are therapies that will help patients live longer--I would really like to see more patients found early," says Dr. Pass, who also runs outreach programs to find people at risk. "Early detection may find patients before they suffer the ravages of the disease including shortness of breath and pain. At this point in time, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and new targeted therapies may help extend patients’ lives."

Dr. Pass has been exploring surgical approaches in combination with novel therapies for pleural mesothelioma since 1989, and has also sought to use molecular biology tools to find an early detection method, as well as to guide appropriate therapy, for the disease. The discovery of osteopontin in mesothelioma resulted from the analysis of thousands of genes using gene expression arrays.

This study was a collaboration between scientists and clinicians at Wayne State University, the John A. Dingell Veterans Hospital in Detroit, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola University, in Maywood, Illinois and the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The research was supported in part by a Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review Award and by patients’ donations.

Dr. Pass recently joined NYU School of Medicine. His previous positions include Chief, Thoracic Oncology at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, which is affiliated with Wayne State University, and Senior Investigator and Head of the Thoracic Oncology Section of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Pamela McDonnell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyumc.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>