Tiny Detection

microRNA Findings May Lead to Blood Test for Lung Cancer

Carlo CroceOSUCCC – James researchers have identified characteristic patterns of microRNA molecules (miRNA) in the blood of lung cancer patients that might reveal the presence and aggressiveness of the disease, and perhaps who is at risk of developing it.

These patterns may be detectable up to two years before the tumor is found by computed tomography (CT) scans. The findings could lead to a blood test for lung cancer, according to principal investigator Carlo Croce, MD, director of the Human Cancer Genetics Program at Ohio State.

Croce and his collaborators identified the molecular patterns in tissue and blood samples collected from patients participating in a clinical trial examining the use of spiral CT scans to screen for lung cancer. The trial involved 1,035 individuals aged 50 years or older who had smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years or more.

“It might be possible to use these patterns of abnormal microRNAs in the plasma to detect lung cancer in people with the disease,” Croce says. “The abnormal microRNAs were also present in blood serum well before the tumors were detected by a sensitive method such as spiral CT scan, suggesting the possibility of identifying high-risk patients on the basis of miRNA profiling.”

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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