Early cancer detection is a very important strategy for effective treatment. The earlier a cancer is found, the greater the treatment options. Often with cancer that is discovered late, treatment options are limited and the cancer is so widespread that effectiveness of any treatment is diminished.
This is true of mesothelioma, which is difficult to detect and typically has a very long latency period. It is also difficult to detect before it has become advanced in its development, making it complicated to treat and leaving its victims with short life expectancies.
Research has found that cancer cells produce biomarkers that can be used to identify the disease. The challenge with using natural biomarkers is that the body produces very small amounts of the biomarkers, and detecting them can be difficult.
The team at MIT realized that if they could amplify the biomarkers, it could allow them to identify the cancer at a much earlier stage of development.
They developed nanoparticles that can interact with cancer proteins to produce thousands of biomarkers, which then allows a urine test to uncover the disease.
Another advantage of the engineered nanoparticles is that they can be designed to identify specific cancers.
The research is still at an early stage but given their success with detecting colorectal cancer in mice, there is optimism that eventually a biomarker test can be devised for finding asbestos-related cancers like mesothelioma early enough that treatment could help patients with better quality of life and greater life expectancy.
A California mesothelioma lawyer can help those diagnosed with the disease file claims for compensation.
Source: Asbestos.com, "MIT Researchers Using New Technology that Could Make Cancer Detection Much Easier," Tim Povtak, January 4, 2013