February 2, 2011
Early Detection Of Lung Cancer
The earlier cancers can be detected, the better the chances of a cure. Researchers are now working to develop a new diagnostics platform with which the illness can be diagnosed in its early stages, even during a visit to the general practitioner: protein biomarkers in exhaled air divulge the presence of pathological cells in the lung.
Lung tumors are the number one cause of death among cancer patients, and one cancer in three is lung cancer. Each year, there are 50,000 new cases of the disease in Germany alone. The earlier a tumor can be detected, the greater the chance of healing the patient. But early detection is difficult. In its initial stages, the tumor-related complaints resemble chronic inflammatory reactions. To get a more complete diagnosis, the patient must undergo an X-ray examination or an bronchoscopy. The last procedure often involves irritation of the lung or removal of tissue samples and, as a result, it is particularly unpleasant for the patient undergoing the procedure. In recent years, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig have teamed up with colleagues at the University Clinic of Leipzig to develop a procedure that can detect special protein biomarkers in exhaled air. The presence of biomarkers suggests the presence of tumor cells in the lung. In a project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the specialists want to work with partners in industry "“ two medium-sized companies in the regional "“ to produce a first prototype that can then be further developed into a diagnostic tool that can be used in practice.
In their new testing platform, the scientists have actually applied two new developments: in addition to the method enlisting protein biomarkers to identify cancer cells, they also make use of the antibody specially developed for this procedure. This way, within just a few years, every physician investigating a suspicion of lung cancer can use the diagnostic platform right in his or her practice to test whether there really is a tumor and quickly initiate treatment.
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