Bioanalysis Zone

Researchers discover novel prognostic biomarker for Mesothelioma


A team of international cancer specialist have discovered a novel prognostic biomarker which will help classify malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The study was recently published in the European Journal of Cancer.

The team’s discovery will allow early diagnosis of MPM and provide accurate prognosis.

The international group of researchers identified the protein complex – Activin A, in patients with MSM.

In the study they measured the levels of Activin A in 129 patients in four regions. 16 patients were diagnosed with non-malignant pleural diseases while 45 healthy individuals were used for a comparison.

Higher levels of Activin A were observed in the patients with MPM. Furthermore, it was found that an increased tumour size was concurrent with higher levels of Activin A.

In contrast with these findings it was also found that patients who had lower levels of Activin A had longer lives.

The study also revealed how Activin A could help clinicians distinguish histological variations and the prospect of histological classification according to histological differences.

The discovery of Activin A will allow doctors to make earlier diagnosis improving treatment of disease and survival rates.

“Blood derived biomarkers are important because they can be noninvasively measured, even at multiple stages,” stated Balazs Hegedus, researcher at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria (Vienna, Austria).

“They can help make the best personalized therapeutic decisions.”

MPM is a rare form of cancer often diagnosed in people who have had high levels of asbestos exposure. MPM is hard to diagnose and the disease frequently metastasizes before a diagnosis is made.

There is no current treatment for MPM. However tumour growth is managed through chemotherapy and radiation, helping ease symptom associated with MPM for patients.

It is also hoped that biomarkers like Activin A will also help in personalizing treatment of disease like MPM for patients. Biomarkers will better inform healthcare providers with the best treatment for each individual depending on their molecular make-up.

 “The multimodal treatment can be very demanding and should only be offered to patients who can really benefit from it,” Balazs added.

“Any marker that can help identify patients with dismal or better prognosis can help with those decisions.”

Sources: Hoda MA, Dong Y, Rozsas A, Klikovits T, Laszlo V, Ghanim B. Circulating activin A is a novel prognostic biomarker in malignant pleural mesothelioma – A multi-institutional study. European Journal of Cancer doi: (2016) (E-pub ahead of print); <>


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