Researchers Develop Test That Can Diagnose Two Cancer Types

This is an article published by the Georgia State University.


A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Researchers used mid-infrared spectroscopy to analyze blood serum derived from experimental mice and differentiate mice with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and subcutaneous melanoma from healthy mice and also between these two tumorous conditions. The mid-infrared spectral region of the electromagnetic spectrum is frequently used to characterize biological samples at the molecular level.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggest infrared spectroscopy can detect biochemical changes induced by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a solid tumorous condition of the immune system, and subcutaneous melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, and has diagnostic potential as a screening technique for these cancers.

Studies have found the incidence rates of cutaneous melanoma have increased in many regions and populations over the last decade, specifically 3 to 7 percent per year among fair-skinned populations. Also, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounts for 4.3 percent of new cancer cases in the United States. The available diagnostic regimen for both cancers, which includes tissue examination and biopsy, is time-consuming, invasive and costly, resulting in small compliance rates of eligible populations for cancer prescreening.

Developing a rapid and reliable prescreening strategy for melanoma and lymphoma is critical because early diagnosis and treatment of these malignancies improve the patients’ chances of survival. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy in Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR) sampling mode provides high-quality results with better reproducibility compared to other vibrational spectroscopy. It has attracted scientists’ attention for its rapid and reliable detection of various health conditions using body fluid samples.

In previous work, Dr. Unil Perera, Regents’ Professor of Physics at Georgia State, and his colleagues discovered that a fast, simple blood test for ulcerative colitis using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy could provide a cheaper, less invasive alternative for screening compared to colonoscopy.

“Our final goal is to say we can use this infrared technique to identify various diseases,” Perera said. “This study shows infrared spectroscopy can identify cancer. Right now, when you go to the doctor, they do blood tests for sugar and several other things, but not for serious diseases like cancer and colitis. If you are a healthy person, there is a range that is normal. One day, we hope that even these serious diseases can be rapidly screened. Your primary doctor could keep a record of your number and check that every time you come back. Then, if there is some indication of cancer or colitis, they can do biopsies, colonoscopies, etc.”

In this recent study, the researchers used mice with lymphoma and melanoma cancers. Blood serum droplets extracted from cancerous mice and control mice were placed on an ATR crystal of the FTIR instrument. Incident infrared beams were absorbed and reflected by the serum, creating a wave that was recorded and used to produce an absorbance curve with peaks that identified the presence of certain biomarkers in the sample.

The researchers compared the absorbance curves from the control and tumorous mice and assessed biochemical changes induced by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and subcutaneous melanoma in the serum samples obtained from Dr. Yuan Liu’s research lab in Georgia State’s Department of Biology.

The study found remarkable differences between the ATR-FTIR spectra of serum samples from tumor-bearing mice with melanoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and healthy, control mice.

The findings are applicable to humans because mice and humans have some biomarkers and chemicals in common, Perera said. In previous studies on colitis, Perera and his colleagues identified specific chemicals that changed in humans and mice when colitis was present.

Using the data collected on the biomarkers for lymphoma and melanoma, the researchers can develop detectors for these particular absorbance peaks, which doctors could use to test patients’ blood samples for these cancers.

Doctors could track a patient’s blood test numbers starting in infancy and monitor them over the years to know exactly when the numbers begin to change. To make before and after comparisons of the blood samples, the data could be entered into a computer program and available statistical analysis software would determine any significant differences. Doctors wouldn’t need to do any sophisticated analysis, Perera said.

This work could lay the foundation for further research that could lead to the development of diagnostic techniques for the health care of melanoma and lymphoma cancer patients using body fluid samples that can be collected with relatively low risks, Perera said. In the future, Perera and his colleagues would like to use samples from human patients for infrared spectroscopy studies of cancer and other diseases.

Other authors of the study include Hemendra Ghimire, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State, and Mahathi Venkataramani, Dr. Zhen Bian and Dr. Yuan Liu of the Department of Biology at Georgia State.

The study is funded by the U.S. Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Institutes of Health.


All rights belong to the Georgia State UniversityFeatured Researcher: Dr. Unil Perera. We would like to thank the Georgia State University for sharing this content with us.

MOVEMBER: Prostate cancer

Movember is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.


At M3 we wanted to use this opportunity to share with you a very interesting article published by the Queen’s University Belfast about the world’s largest research study using a diagnostic test developed by Almac Diagnostics. The goal is to understand better the biology of prostate cancer tumours, which could lead to a transformation in how prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated.


Transforming prostate cancer treatment

Whether a prostate cancer patient has a slow-growing or aggressive tumour will affect the type of treatment required. It is only through understanding the type and genetics of the particular cancer tumour that clinicians will be able to put an effective treatment plan in place.

Lead researcher, Dr Suneil Jain from the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast explains: “Current diagnosis of prostate cancer involves biopsies, scans and blood tests to determine how aggressive the cancer is and subsequently to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Doctors repeatedly report that these tools aren’t always effective in determining how aggressive the cancer is, which can mean it is difficult to decide on the best treatment for an individual patient.”

Global Personalised medicine company Almac Diagnostics has developed a gene expression biomarker, known as Metastatic Assay, which aims to quickly diagnose the type of prostate cancer. The test analyses the genetics of the tumour enabling clinicians to understand the type of tumour, whether it is a slow-growing or aggressive and if the latter, to what extent.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast led the world’s largest study of this kind, using Metastatic Assay on prostate biopsies from 248 patients who had previously been treated for prostate cancer. The research findings, published in Annals of Oncology, found the diagnostic test to be more effective than the standard clinical tests.

Professor Richard Kennedy, Global VP and Medical Director at Almac Diagnostics and McClay Professor in Medical Oncology at Queen’s University Belfast commented: “The assay has now proven to be superior to conventional clinical tests at predicting aggressive disease in two independent studies, the first of which used surgical tissue, while this study used tissue taken from needle biopsy. We believe it will play an important role in identifying men who may benefit from treatment intensification.”

Treatment options available to prostate cancer patients include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy and hormone therapy. Although radiotherapy is often used to effectively treat patients with prostate cancer, 20- 30% of patients can relapse within five years.

Dr Jain explains: “The relapse of many prostate patients could be avoided through undergoing more intensive treatment including higher dosages of radiotherapy. There are also potential side-effects associated with administering more intensive treatment so a test that enables us to deliver the right treatment to the right patient would be extremely beneficial in clinical practice.”

The project was funded by Prostate Cancer UK and the Movember Centre of Excellence, a joint venture between Queen’s University Belfast and academic colleagues in Manchester.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “This research could provide clinicians with the answers they need to identify which cancers are likely to spread and give men peace of mind that the decision they make regarding their treatment is the right one. It’s still early days but it’s great to see how the work taking place at the Movember Centres of Excellence has the potential to bring about real change for men. We look forward to further results.”


All rights belong to the Queen’s University Belfast.

Movember logo belongs to the Movember foundation.

AUGUST: Psoriasis Action Month

August is Psoriasis Action Month! How much do you know about psoriasis treatment options?


Psoriasis is a chronic, noncontagious immune-mediated disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells.

It affects more than 8 million Americans. An estimated 125 million people worldwide live with psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease, affecting 80 percent of those with psoriasis. It appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. Other types of psoriasis: o Guttate: Small dot-like lesions o Pustular: White blisters surrounded by red skin o Inverse: Appears as very red lesions in body folds, such as behind the knee, under the arm or in the groin o Erythrodermic: severe form of psoriasis that leads to widespread, fiery redness over most of the body. It can cause severe itching and pain, and make the skin come off in sheets.

Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but most frequently occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso. The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. Genetics and external factors known as “triggers” play a role in the develop.

This August, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) has developed new tools to help you take control of this disease. To start, test your knowledge on psoriasis treatment options!

Psoriasis Action Month

All quiz takers have the option to receive an NPF journaling kit. * Then, share this quiz with your colleagues and friends to increase awareness about Psoriasis Action Month and encourage others to take an active role in treating and managing the disease.

* Due to shipping costs, journaling kits are only available to residents of the U.S. and Canada. But anyone can get in touch with the NPF Patient Navigation Center to ask a question about their disease and learn more about treatment options!

All rights belong to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF). We would like to thank the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) for sharing with us their instructive quiz.

Hypertension in People with Haemophilia

Hypertension in People with Haemophilia is an article written by Dr. David Clark for Factor Nine News, The Coalition for Hemophilia B (Winter 2017 issue).

Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the age-related conditions in hemophilia that has not been explored very thoroughly. Historically, before the advent of factor products, people with hemophilia often did not survive childhood. Treatment with clotting factors significantly increased life expectancy, but then the AIDS crisis came along and devastated much of the hemophilia population, so they never reached old age. It is only more recently, now that life expectancy is approximately that of the general population, that it has become possible to study aging in people with hemophilia. High blood pressure is a concern because it is associated with heart disease, stroke, eye disease and kidney disease. It is also one of the major risk factors in intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), which is 20 to 50 times more common in people with hemophilia than in the general population and can be fatal.

Hemophilia patients tend to have higher blood pressures for unknown reasons. A recent study from three U.S. hemophilia treatment centers (Barnes et al, Int J Hypertension, Epub 2014201, Nov 14, 2016) has shown that the usual cardiovascular risk factors do not explain the greater incidence of high blood pressure in people with hemophilia compared to the general population. The researchers compared 469 male hemophilia patients, both As and Bs, to age-matched male controls from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a series of surveys to evaluate the health status of the U.S. population.

Hypertension in People with Hemophilia

Risk factors for high blood pressure in the general population include age, obesity, cholesterol, kidney function, diabetes, smoking, hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) and race. The hemophilia patients in the study showed both higher systolic (top number) and diastolic pressures (bottom number) than the general population regardless of the risk factor examined, except HCV. HCV did appear to be a risk factor for the older age group (≥ 30 years), but it only explains part of the variation. Even comparing patients being treated with blood pressure medication, treated people with hemophilia had higher pressures. The hemophilia patients in the study actually had fewer risk factors than the controls: their weights and cholesterol were lower, they had better kidney function and they had lower rates of smoking and diabetes, yet their blood pressures were worse.

Note that this does not mean that people with hemophilia can ignore the risk factors. They will still affect their blood pressure. It’s just that there is apparently more going on for hemophilia patients than just those risk factors. Something else is also causing their blood pressures to increase.

One interesting clue from the study is that there is not as much of a drop from systolic to diastolic pressure in people with hemophilia as there is in the controls. This suggests a greater stiffness of the blood vessel walls, which may indicate vascular changes occurring in hemophilia. Other studies have also identified vascular abnormalities in people with hemophilia, but overall little is known. Another unexpected finding was that the youngest age group (< 30 years) of hemophilia patients had markedly higher blood pressures than their age-matched controls. This is a worrisome result that warrants further investigation.

This study has uncovered some significant information about high blood pressure and hemophilia, but much more remains to be learned. Meanwhile, all hemophilia patients, even younger ones, should pay attention to their blood pressure. High blood pressure is known as a silent killer because there are usually no apparent symptoms until it is too late. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to measure it. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 when sitting quietly. If either or both numbers are much higher, you should consult your physician about possible treatment.


Thanks to the author, Dr. David Clark, for sharing his article with the M3 Global Research Blog. You can read more articles written by Dr. Clark here.



JULY 28: World Hepatitis Day

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day. Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year – that’s as many as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. Together, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C cause 80% of liver cancer cases in the world.

Viral hepatitis is not found in one location nor amongst one set of people; it is a truly global epidemic that can affect millions of people without them even being aware. Currently, 90% of people living with hepatitis B and 80% living with hepatitis C are not aware of their status. This can result in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and in some cases, unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

With the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis is achievable, but greater awareness and understanding of the disease and the risks is a must, as is access to cheaper diagnostics and treatment.

With the inclusion of viral hepatitis in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recent adoption of the world’s first global hepatitis strategy, we are at a pivotal moment. Now more than ever political commitment is needed. Without urgent action, deaths will continue to rise and the epidemic will continue to grow.

The elimination of viral hepatitis has now been firmly put on the map. At the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, 194 governments adopted WHO’s Global Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which includes a goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C in the next 13 years. The community responded by launching NOhep, the first ever global movement to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.

World Hepatitis Day

On WHD 2017, we can build on this momentum and accelerate progress towards achieving the goal of elimination by 2030.

All rights belong to the World Hepatitis Alliance.