New blood test for head, neck cancer in the works
A blood serum microRNA biomarker signature for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma was recently reported in the Journal of Translational Medicine. The researchers involved in its discovery are expanding on this finding to develop a blood test model that will help predict or diagnose head and neck cancers. [Available at https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-020-02446-1 Accessed on 14 September 2020]
Head and neck cancer is a difficult cancer to diagnose in the early stages but the researchers from Flinders University, Australia, believe the newly discovered biomarker signature, also known as the serum small extracellular vesicle derived 11-miRNA-ratio signature, might be able to detect other squamous mucosal head and neck cancers, too.
This tool is especially important as there is currently no detection test available for primary care physicians to use for patients at risk of head and neck cancers.
“MicroRNAs are potential biomarkers for early head and neck squamous cell cancer diagnosis, prognosis, recurrence, and presence of metastatic disease. However, there is no widespread agreement on a panel of miRNAs with clinically meaningful utility for head and neck squamous cell cancers,” said Damian Hussey, Ph.D., of the College of Medicine and Public Health.
“If our test can be translated to clinic [practice], then it could facilitate surveillance, earlier diagnosis and treatment—including for identifying people with early stage, or at increased risk of developing, head and neck cancer,” said fellow researcher Associate Professor Eng Ooi, also of the College of Medicine and Public Health.