Clinical utility of a novel serum marker, serum mesothelin family protein (SMF) in mesothelioma patients [ 2003 - 2005 ]

Also known as: A new blood test for an asbestos-induced cancer

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Bruce Robinson (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Arthur Musk Prof Jenette Creaney Prof Richard Lake

Brief description Asbestos fibres can cause a number of cancers, one of the most aggressive and untreatable being mesothelioma. Unfortunately mesothelioma is largely resistant to the main forms of therapy: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The average survival from diagnosis is only 8.5 months. It is sometimes difficult to diagnose mesothelioma and additional tests would be useful. Also, a simple screening test may be able to detect the earlier stages of this disease, and allow for early treatment, would be of widespread value to the community. Markers of cancer can be detected in the blood for a number of cancers e.g. prostate, colon, liver and ovary. No reliable serum marker for the presence of mesothelioma has been described and this study describes work aimed at further evaluating a novel marker that we have been researching in collaboration with a group from Seattle, USA. Mesothelin is a protein made in mesothelial tissue such as mesothelioma. When an individual develops mesothelioma the levels increase in the blood. Also, a proportion of individuals increased levels of this molecule can be detected prior to presentation. This means that it may become a useful screening tool in asbestos-exposed individuals and might be a clinical indicator of the need for further testing and, if early disease is found, early treatments. Given that early treatment of cancer is more effective than late treatment in most clinical situations, this is likely to improve the prognosis for this disease. For this marker to be clinically useful, a careful correlation between its level in the blood and the exact amount of tumour that is present (based on precised computerised tomography x-ray measurements of the tumour) are important. The findings of this study may have widespread implications for patients with mesothelioma and individuals at risk of developing mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos.

Funding Amount $AUD 323,250.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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