It’s a cold, hard fact that lung diseases affect an increasingly growing sector of the population today. Almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, and the disease may predispose sufferers to lung cancer, which strikes over a quarter-million new victims each year. The increased risk of lung cancer among asthma sufferers who have never smoked supports a direct correlation between asthma and lung cancer. However there does not exist a simple, reliable method of diagnosing pathologies of human lung tissues early in their development. That is, until a new study conducted by the Cancer Prevention & Cure laboratory in San Antonio, TX lead to a discovery that is changing all that.
The purpose of the study was to identify panels of serum biomarkers that can detect and distinguish asthma from non-small cell lung cancer. The study identified several novel panels of biomarkers (patent pending) that stratify and correctly classify the physiologic state of a subject with regard to non-small cell lung cancer and asthma. Simply put, their study instantly revolutionized the way lung cancer is screened for and detected. Even more amazing is that CPC discovered all this by simply testing a patient’s blood.
“Most lung cancers are discovered too late in terms of disease development, and the cases are already pretty serious before they’re accurately diagnosed,” explains Robert Streeper, one of the study’s principals. “From the patient’s point of view, having the ability to differentiate between a condition like asthma and lung cancer is huge.”
While this approach may seem like common sense in theory, it’s actually groundbreaking in the way CPC employs a proprietary panel that checks several blood biomarkers as cancer indicators, and therefore has developed an exponentially more accurate diagnostic tool than previous single biomarker testing approaches. The findings supported a multi-marker strategy for the diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancers by measuring expression levels of groups of biomarkers to facilitate early detection of the disease through simple blood tests. The biomarkers can also be used to characterize disease progression, differentiate among the pathologies, and to monitor patients’ responses to various drug therapies.
CT scans – the current primary lung cancer diagnostic tool – are not only expensive, but are controversial because of the potentially dangerous levels of radiation they expose a patient to. The results also take longer to process, and usually can only detect full-blown cases of cancer where treatment is too late. CPC’s blood testing is not only significantly cheaper than conventional CT scans, but also provides instant results, and is much less invasive and a safer diagnostic technology overall.
CPC’s groundbreaking discovery is already being referenced, copied, and applied to researching other types of cancer, such as ovarian and testicular, by other labs and research firms.
CPC wishes to pre-screen at-risk patients to test their blood to see if their panel fits the biomarker profile, and if it does, ten refer them for further diagnosis. “Our objective,” Streeper explains, “is to form a partnership with a big clinical service provider and license this technology out.”
Groundbreaking as it is, the implications of CPC’s pioneering research doesn’t stop at just cancer diagnosis; Streeper explains that they also found that men and women lung cancer patients are very different in terms of their biochemical profiles. Such a discovery is important not only from a diagnostic standpoint, but also has implications that perhaps the treatments and testing for men and women should be different as well. This also raises another question to the medical community: in regards to other cancers affecting men and women – are their markers biochemically different as well?
“Nobody knows. Nobody has ever published a study like that,” Streeper points out, which means that CPC’s important diagnostic ripple could change the way every type of cancer is discovered and treated in the big pond of the medical future.