October 10, 2012 – In a groundbreaking study published in the New England Journal of Medicine today, highly respected mesothelioma researchers, led by Harvey I. Pass, M.D. of NYU Medical Center, reported that they have identified a biomarker in blood and effusions (effusion refers to the escape of fluid from blood vessels or the lymphatic system and its collection in a cavity of the body), which can distinguish a healthy person with exposure to asbestos from patients with mesothelioma and distinguish effusions caused from mesothelioma from other malignant and benign effusions.

October 10, 2012 – In a groundbreaking study published in the New England Journal of Medicine today, highly respected mesothelioma researchers, led by Harvey I. Pass, M.D. of NYU Medical Center, reported that they have identified a biomarker in blood and effusions (effusion refers to the escape of fluid from blood vessels or the lymphatic system and its collection in a cavity of the body), which can distinguish a healthy person with exposure to asbestos from patients with mesothelioma and distinguish effusions caused from mesothelioma from other malignant and benign effusions.

Blood and effusion fluid was collected by doctors in Detroit and New York from patients with pleural mesothelioma, patients with pleural effusions not due to mesothelioma, and cancer-free individuals with a history of asbestos exposure (including foundry workers, pipefitters, plumbers, shipbuilders, machinists, tool and die workers, millwrights, bricklayers, electricians, those in the building and construction trades, those involved in brake assembly or repair, those with exposure to vermiculite insulation, and those with exposure from contact with family members who worked with asbestos). The research compared the levels of a biomarker called fibulin-3 in the blood and effusions of these different groups of patients. They found that fibulin-3 levels in the blood did not vary according to age, sex, or duration of asbestos exposure. Fibulin-3 levels in blood were significantly higher, however, in patients with pleural mesothelioma than in asbestos-exposed persons without mesothelioma. Further, fibulin-3 levels in effusion fluid were significantly higher in patients with pleural mesothelioma than in patients with effusions caused by something else.

These results suggest that levels of fibulin-3 in plasma and effusions may aid in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of pleural mesothelioma. The authors of the study noted that further research on fibulin-3 is needed before it can be used to diagnose patients in a clinical setting. They also called for further study of how fibulin-3 can be used to predict patients’ prognoses.

The authors called for further study on this important biomarker in order to clarify the role of fibulin-3 in mesothelioma growth, invasion, and metastasis formation and to determine whether the molecule might be targeted for specific therapies. This research holds the exciting promise of potentially improving the efficacy of the treatments doctors can offer mesothelioma patients.

This study is a result of a collaboration by physicians from New York University Langone Medical Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Karmanos Cancer Institute, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, the University of California, Los Angeles, the Swedish Cancer Institute, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network and the University of Toronto.

Levy Konigsberg LLP is proud to have contributed to the support of this research through our donations.

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Mesothelioma

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