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Early Detection Tool for Mesothelioma On the Horizon

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Each year, thousands of people in the U.S. and across the world are faced with a diagnosis of mesothelioma. The deadly, aggressive cancer, caused by past asbestos exposure, hibernates for decades before life-threatening symptoms become apparent. The key to increased life expectancy when battling this cancer is early detection. A reliable diagnostic tool, however, has been elusive to researchers until now. In a recent study, researchers report  “exciting results” in detecting a protein indicating the presence of malignant mesothelioma.

MorNuCo Laboratories of Indiana, announced last month that with its ONCOblot® Test a team of researchers conducted a retrospective clinical trial where a mesothelioma-specific form of the ENOX2 protein “was found within the serum of asbestos-exposed individuals an average of 6.2 years in advance of clinical symptoms.”

“The completion of this trial is an exciting new chapter for our work,” says Nick Miner, Vice President of Business Development, in the company’s Feb. 4 press release. “Although asbestos-induced mesothelioma is a very specific example of early detection, we are currently pursuing larger-scale clinical trials to investigate the utility of the ENOX2 protein marker to predict the onset of cancers of other tissues of origin as well.”

Although the American Cancer Society identifies chest x-rays, CT scans, PET scans and the bronchoscopy as tests used to diagnose mesothelioma, these are only effective after a patient has presented with worsening respiratory symptoms. MorNuCo’s goal with ONCOblot, is to offer a tool that can detect the cancer early, “before the disease progresses and to begin treatment well in advance of life-threatening symptoms.”

Mesothelioma often has symptoms such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and wheezing, that are similar to many other respiratory illnesses. When a patient presents with these symptoms, doctors often first treat the patient for a respiratory infection before turning to testing for cancer. Stopping tumor growth and preventing metastasis is especially critical for mesothelioma and lung cancer where the diseases are highly aggressive. This can only be achieved if the cancer is detected early.

“The results of this study showed that two mesothelioma-specific ENOX2 protein transcript variants were detected in the serum of asbestos-exposed individuals 4–10 years prior to clinical diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma, an exciting sign of progress in the cancer detection field,” according to the press release.

The study can be found in the Jan. 22 issue of Clinical Proteomics Journal.

Note: Physicians can order the ONCOblot® Test, however, it has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The test is CLIA Certified (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and CAP Accredited (College of American Pathologists). The cost of the test is not covered under insurance.

For more information see the FAQs on Oncoblot’s website.

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