MDxHealth's epigenetics diagnostic for lung cancer

While lung cancer is the most common fatal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, the earlier treatment is started, the better the prognosis. And that requires accurate, easy to use and non-invasive diagnostics that physicians can use in the clinic or at a patient's bedside. Epigenetic data presented at the 2011 EORTC-NCI-ASCO Annual Meeting on Molecular Markers in Cancer suggested that researchers might be a step closer to this kind of diagnostic in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common type of lung cancer.

Belgian molecular diagnostics company MDxHealth is developing a molecular diagnostic test, ConfirmMDx for lung cancer. The study presented at the meeting looked at a number of MDxHealth's epigenetic cancer biomarkers, RASSF1A, TAC1, GREM1 and HOXA9. Using a technique called methylation specific PCR, the researchers saw that a combination of these could detect NSCLC in routinely-collected sputum samples from 40 patients diagnosed with stage I-IV and 52 cancer-free controls. The sensitivity and specificity looked good--75% to 80% and 90% to 96% respectively.

"The results of this study clearly show that our epigenetic biomarkers can be used to detect the presence of NSCLC in patients with various stages of disease using a non-invasively collected specimen. Early diagnosis of NSCLC is a clear unmet medical need and critical for potential curative treatment," says Jan Groen, CEO of MDxHealth.

The company could make Belgium's name by creating a sensitive and specific non-invasive diagnostic test for NSCLC that allows much earlier treatment and so, potentially better outcomes. Further development and clinical studies are required before approval and market of the ConfirmMDx lung cancer test, though.

- here's the release