Researchers from NYU’s School of Medicine recently validated a test that monitors mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the protective lining of the body’s organs, as an effective way for doctors to monitor patients for treatment.

Doctors have suspected for some time that mesothelioma can be detected by the presence of soluble mesothelin-related proteins (SMRP), according to an NYU press release. The research confirms that these proteins are released into the blood stream by diseased cells, justifying the screening test for the proteins.

Dr. Harvey Pass, NYU School of Medicine professor of surgery and director of surgical research, led the study.

“This is an illness that can kill patients in 12 months if detected too late,” Pass said. “This test could detect mesothelioma earlier and patients could live longer.”

The test, developed by Fujirebio Diagnostics, is the world’s only in vitro test that monitors mesothelioma.

The test, called mesomark assay, measures proteins within the blood that reflect changes in the patient’s tumor volume, which is a key factor for monitoring patient status and response to therapies, according to the press release.

People with mesothelioma experience fluid accumulation in the lining of the chest, the abdominal cavity or the area around the chest.

The patients monitored in the study had significantly higher amounts of SMRP than those in the control group with asbestos exposure and other cancers. As the disease progressed to more advanced stages in the diagnosed mesothelioma patients, the SMRP levels were found to be increasing.

The mesomark assay kit used in Pass’ research measures levels of SMRP in patients diagnosed with mesothelioma with a blood test.

Mesothelioma is difficult to detect, as it can take as long as 75 years to develop in a person’s body after exposure.

With only a 10 percent survival rate, Pass said he hopes that this study will be able to improve survival rates and the quality of life for mesothelioma patients.

The studys funding, provided by the Early Detection Research Network of the National Cancer Institute, added up to $473,000.

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