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Discovery of Biomarkers for Mesothelioma

According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), researchers have identified biomarkers and protein signatures that are “hallmarks of cancer at an early stage” for two aggressive forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

The biomarkers were discovered using “aptamer-based proteomics array technology” which was developed by SomaLogic Inc.  Aptamers are a certain type of molecule that binds to specific proteins. SomaLogic used chemical engineering to develop an evolved class of aptamers (called SOMAmers or Slow Off-rate Modified Aptamers) with enhanced properties that enable it to identify and quantify target proteins.

According to SomaLogics, SOMAmers can “unlock biomarker discovery to detect even the rarest disease associated proteins quickly, concurrently, effectively and economically.”

The researchers discovered biomarkers and developed a signature with a high accuracy for detection of each form of cancer. They also found high specificity which means that few people without disease will be incorrectly diagnosed and made to undergo unnecessary tests.

According to Rachel Ostroff, Ph.D., clinical research director of SomaLogic Inc., “detection of these aggressive cancers at an earlier stage would identify patients for early treatment of mesothelioma, which may improve their survival and quality of life.”  Currently, most patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma present with symptoms when the disease is clinically advanced and the possibility of a cure is minimal. Once diagnosed, malignant pleural mesothelioma is often fatal within 14 months.

The results of the study were presented at the Fourth AACR International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development. According to Dr. Ostroff, validation studies are underway.