Sensitive serum markers for improved diagnosis, monitoring and screening for early detection of mesothelioma [ 2006 - 2009 ]

Also known as: New blood tests for asbestos induced cancer

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Jenette Creaney (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Arthur Musk Prof Bruce Robinson Prof Steve Skates

Brief description The deadly asbestos-induced cancer mesothelioma is continuing to kill tens of thousands of individuals per year and its incidence is increasing. Mesothelioma is predicted to cost communities hundreds of billions of dollars in compensation. This disease is unusually difficult to diagnose and tends to be already quite advanced by the time patients present to the doctor with symptoms. Unfortunately, treatment options for the majority of patients are limited and most die within a year of diagnosis. In different forms of cancer, levels of certain proteins in the blood can be measured and have been shown to indicate the presence of tumour and in some cases the extent of tumour. These proteins are collectively known as tumour markers. Tumour markers for ovarian, prostate, breast and other cancers are used by doctors to help with the diagnosis of specific cancers, to monitor the patients response to treatment and to give a valuable early warning of remission or relapse. There is no tumour marker currently used for patients with mesothelioma. We have shown in early studies published in the prestigious journal The Lancet that soluble mesothelin related protein (SMRP) is actually elevated in more than 75% of mesothelioma patients and in less than 2% of patients with other cancer and non-cancer lung diseases. In this current project we plan to extend our studies looking at blood levels of SMRP to see if they will help in the care of patients with mesothelioma. So far we have done most of the work in a particular group of patients, but it is vital that the work be extended to other groups with different types and durations of exposure to asbestos and to different areas of the country. As part of that we need to test how stable the molecule is in blood samples, because if it is not very stable it wont be a very pratical test. We also plan to look at some other markers that have been clinically useful in other forms of cancer and we will try to identify new, novel mesothelioma specific markers. This work has the potential to impact on patient care in many centres of the world.

Funding Amount $AUD 410,880.77

Funding Scheme NHMRC Strategic Awards

Notes Asbestos diseases related research grants

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