Mesothelioma is an aggressive disease, and it is very difficult to diagnose before its late stages. These two aspects help account for the high number of deaths seen in mesothelioma patients. The symptoms of mesothelioma can remain latent for as long as 50 years, so by the time it is diagnosed, it has generally already reached Stage 3 or 4. This allows for fewer curative treatment options, forcing doctors to use more palliative ones.
An earlier diagnosis offers mesothelioma patients a better outlook, or prognosis. Fortunately, the ability to make an earlier diagnosis has been made more readily available with a blood test called Mesomark. Fujirebio Diagnostics, Inc., located in Malvern, Pennsylvania, developed a test that can measure the levels of a certain biomarker in human serum. Fujirebio is one of the top research companies in the field of oncology testing.
Their test was initially introduced in March 2005 in Australia, and distribution of Mesomark spread to Europe in only a few months. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its approval in January 2007.
The Test for Mesothelioma
This new blood test is easy to perform. It measures the number of soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRP) present in human serum by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. SMRP is the specific biomarker that mesothelioma cells produce. In the serum of patients with mesothelioma, SMRP levels may be significantly higher than normal. The ability to discover this biomarker using a simple blood test can help doctors come to an early diagnosis, thus introducing more options for treatment and ultimately leading to an improved prognosis for mesothelioma patients.
Mesomark tests can also be used to track the success or failure of treatments being used on patients who have a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma. This knowledge can aid doctors in deciding what the next treatment modality will be.
This test would certainly be an important diagnostic tool for people who may have mesothelioma. A study conducted through NYU’s School of Medicine and the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, led by Dr. Harvey Pass and a team of cardiothoracic experts has shown this particular test to have a positive record in providing results. In the study, the serum of patients with mesothelioma, as well as any pleural effusions present, was tested with the Mesomark assay. According to the results, the individuals with mesothelioma had remarkably higher amounts of SMRP in the blood than those used as the control group.
At the end of the study, Dr. Pass concluded that the findings proved that SMRP is a legitimate biomarker for mesothelioma and that more research in the field is justified.