Biomarker test could mean early lung cancer diagnosis

Lung adenocarcinoma is a form of non-small cell lung cancer seen in nonsmokers, and mesothelioma is a rare cancer that can be triggered by asbestos. Researchers at New York University Cancer Institute are working on a blood test to detect antibodies associated with these forms of cancer and diagnose the diseases early, or even spot people at risk.

Lung adenocarcinoma and mesothelioma cancer cells have glycan biomarkers on their surfaces, and people with even early-stage cancer have antibodies to these glycans. The researchers have created printed glycan arrays, which are pre-prepared with spots of 286 different glycans. As part of a high-throughput platform, this can be used to screen blood serum samples to identify the biomarkers. The team is comparing sera from patients with malignant mesothelioma and people at high risk of the disease through asbestos exposure, but without symptoms of the disease.

While this test is at a very early stage, it could help physicians spot people at risk of developing these cancers. It could be particularly useful for nonsmokers, who may not be screened regularly, as well as those patients with more advanced disease who might respond poorly to treatment and would need more aggressive therapies. This would allow tailored treatment and better outcomes for the patient (as well as a lower burden on the healthcare system), and could also help to identify new routes for drug development.

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