An immune system protein could act as an early warning for lung cancer, according to a team of researchers. The investigators analyzed blood samples from 50 healthy volunteers and 104 people with different types of lung cancer.
They tested for autoantibodies to p53, c-myc, HER2, NY-ESO-1, CAGE, MUC1, and GBU4-5. These seven autoantibodies are associated with solid tumors such as lung, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. They are triggered when cancerous changes are taking place.
The scientists found the presence of all seven autoantibodies and very high levels of at least one in almost eight out of 10 samples taken from patients with confirmed lung cancer. These autoantibodies were found in eight out of the nine patients whose cancer had not infiltrated the lymph nodes. Only one healthy volunteer reportedly had more than one of these autoantibodies in their blood.
“Measurement of an autoantibody response to one or more tumor-associated antigen in an optimized panel assay could provide a sensitive and specific blood test to aid the early detection of lung cancer,” wrote the team.
The study was a collaborative effort by researchers at the University of Nottingham, Oncimmune, and the Johannes Guttenberg University.
The study is published ahead of print in Thorax.