Study conducted at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has found that new markers for melanoma may allow the disease to be accurately monitored via a routine blood test.
Researchers said that the new biomarkers could be ideally suited for monitoring tumor progression in patients diagnosed with early metastatic disease.
This panel of markers could be useful in tracking melanoma progression or recurrence in patients being monitored by their treating clinician as they are highly sensitive and specific and are significantly better than markers currently being used.
Better monitoring may improve a patient's chance of survival by detecting melanoma progression before metastatic disease is clinically evident and allowing treatment to start sooner.
The blood test would look for elevated levels of the markers, or microRNAs, tiny molecules which regulate the amount of protein a gene can produce. In specimens from stage IV patients, the new biomarkers confirmed tumor progression in 100% of cases, Stark said.
Queensland Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said the research represents a significant advance for melanoma patients, adding that the ability to identify signs of melanoma progression sooner will be a valuable clinical tool. The research has been published in EBioMedicine