News / Health

Scientists Work on Blood Test for Early Lung Cancer Detection

Jessica Berman

Scientists are developing a blood test to detect lung cancer, one of the most common and deadly cancers in the world.  The test, which looks for certain proteins in the blood, is designed to find tumors at their earliest, most treatable stage.

According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, claiming an estimated 1.5 million lives each year.  The disease is caused mainly by cigarette smoking.  Early detection followed by prompt treatment is essential to surviving this deadly, fast-growing cancer.  

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the northwestern U.S city of Seattle, Washington, report they have developed a new blood test for lung cancer proteins.  Those proteins are produced by tumor tissue early in the development of lung cancer and can be detected in plasma, a blood component that’s rich in proteins.  

The scientists say the cancer test is so sensitive, it can detect the presence of markers or signatures that suggest tumor activity before they can be seen by advanced imaging devices such as a CT scan, which can spot tumors only a few millimeters across.

According to Sam Hanash, a scientist at Fred Hutchinson. and a lead researcher on the lung cancer blood test, using CT scans to detect tiny tumors can save the lives of patients at risk of lung cancer. But he says CT screening has a down-side: a high percentage of its images reveal nodules that appear as potentially malignant tumors.

“...That necessitate surgery, that turns out to be benign and a lot of other potential complications. So there’s a need for a blood test so that we can make CT scans more reliable,” Hanash said.

Hanash says the lung cancer blood test looks for protein signatures of the disease similar to the way other cancer blood tests work, including the CA 125 test for ovarian cancer and the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, test for prostate cancer.

In initial experiments with mice, Hanash and his colleagues discovered protein markers by switching on genes that gave the animals lung cancer, and then switching off the cancer-causing genes.

Hanash says scientists next looked to see whether they could find the same cancer protein signatures in human lung cancer cells.

“And the answer was “Yes!”  So that was pretty satisfying that in fact we’re not dealing with a curiosity type of finding that only mice seem to display, but we are dealing with a real feature of cancer cells whether mice-derived or human-derived,” Hanash said.

Hanash says researchers detected protein biomarkers unique to a number of different lung tumors, as well as some of the molecular networks of genes that drive tumor development.

He says the next step is to develop a test that doctors can use with patients at risk for lung cancer, probably in about two years.

An article describing the development of a new diagnostic test for lung cancer protein signatures is published in the journal, Cancer Cell.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid