This minimally invasive and affordable tool can reduce today’s high mortality rates

A new system based on epigenetic biomarkers for the early diagnosis of reliable, minimally invasive and affordable lung cancer allows to help a faster detection of this type of tumor and, thus, reduce the current high mortality rates.

This epigenetic model is especially indicated in those cases in which the biopsy is not feasible or when the cytology is not conclusive, as reported by the Health Research Institute (IIS) of the La Fe Hospital in Valencia, an entity that has patented the system internationally.

The IIS of La Fe and the Valencian company of advanced services of cancer prevention and genetic counseling Bemygene have signed a license agreement to commercialize and promote the development and commercialization of this epigenetic kit.

They have also signed a license agreement to market it the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies and the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra. The system allows combining the epigenetic state of four genes to generate a probability value of lung cancer customized for each patient.

The director of the Epigenomics Unit and member of the Biomarkers and Precision Medicine Group of IIS La Fe, Juan Sandoval, is the principal investigator of this research project that will be transferred to the patient through a diagnostic kit.

The kit is the result of research funded with funds from the FEDER and the Carlos III Health Institute and collected in the article “A novel epigenetic signature for early diagnosis in lung cancer”, published in the scientific journal Clinical Cancer Research in 2016.

Bemygene has developed a study that has allowed to define the segment of patients in which the kit will be really necessary, due to the limitations of conventional techniques, thus favoring its future introduction into the clinical routine.

According to Sandoval, this model of epigenetic markers “can help improve the early diagnosis of lung cancer and, therefore, reduce the current high mortality rates.”

“It is a very reliable, minimally invasive and affordable kit, which complements and improves the systems currently applied and also allows the diagnosis of areas where it is not possible to use conventional techniques, as they are not biopsy-able”, he assures. Sandoval, which considers it a “determining aspect” for its future incorporation into the health system.

The leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide
The lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide and the evolution of the patient is closely linked to the stage of the tumor at the time of diagnosis. Due to its late clinical manifestation, most patients are diagnosed in advanced stages, when curative treatment is no longer possible.

Currently, cytology is the standard method for the diagnosis of this type of cancer in minimally invasive respiratory samples, but it is a method with low sensitivity. Therefore, there is a need to search for new molecular biomarkers that improve the diagnostic process of lung cancer, according to the sources.

The main contribution of this diagnostic kit in bronchoaspirates and sputum induced, in addition to its high sensitivity, is its ability to produce a continuous range of predictions between 100 and 0% (positive-negative).

The specialist oncology staff will be able to take various actions according to the predictions, such as carrying out additional tests in doubtful cases.

The development of lung cancer usually has associated morbidity that prevents the performance of biopsies, and in these cases is indicated the application of this epigenetic tool that, in addition, is able to identify false negatives from cytology tests.

“The combination of this epigenetic model, highly sensitive and specific, along with standard clinical methods can help improve the diagnosis of lung cancer and decrease the current mortality rate,” he says.

Being a minimally invasive and affordable technique, its use could be extended to the routine hospital clinic and the next step, according to sources, is the promotion of a clinical trial from the IIS La Fe that allows to evaluate the application of the algorithm in an environment real clinical

According to the person in charge of Bemygene, Teresa Valdés Sánchez, the agreement to develop this system implies the possibility of getting patients a technology that could significantly increase the probability of success of lung cancer therapies.

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