For many illnesses, early detection can make an enormous difference in the outcome. This is especially true with malignant mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs almost always brought on by exposure to asbestos.
Since this deadly disease can take from 20 up to 50 years to present itself, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose in the early stages. With an earlier diagnosis, the range of treatments can grow with the goal of prolonging life.
Researchers accepted the challenge and have recently concentrated their attention to various blood exams. Until the HGMB1 test, there were three blood tests used to measure biomarkers. Though an improvement, they required an additional surgical biopsy.
Promising new test
The HGMB1 test has – so far – attained almost 100 per cent accuracy in testing. It is based around the presence of the excessive mobility group field protein 1 (HGMB1) biomarker. Four groups were tested for levels of HGMB1:
• Healthy individuals
• Patients with a buildup of fluids – benign and malignant – not due to malignant mesothelioma
• Patients with known asbestos exposure
• Patients with malignant mesothelioma
By using the ranges of HGMB1, researchers were able to match with 100% accuracy the groups above with their blood samples. Healthy people had the least HMGB1, while those with malignant mesothelioma had the most.
While the test is still new, it appears to be a major step to early diagnosis and proof of asbestos exposure without surgery. This test is often used in tandem with the fibulin-3 protein test for even greater certainty of diagnoses. Researchers continue to develop and refine tests as they strive to find a cure for mesothelioma.