Although it seems clear that the first blood test for mesothelioma has been developed, there seems to some conflict as to who actually gets credit for this significant medical breakthrough. Some news sources attribute the test known as MESOMARK to Australian researchers headed by Professor Bruce Robinson of the University of Western Australia. Others credit the very same test to Fujirebio Diagnostics, Inc. (FJI) of Tokyo, Japan, which announced the filing of an application for clearance to the FDA.
The test works by identifying serum tumor markers called soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRP) which are proteins released into the blood by malignant mesothelioma cells. Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive cancer found in the lining of the chest, the abdominal cavity, and area around the heart. It is primarily caused by exposure to airborne asbestos particles and has a latency period of between 30 and 40 years. As we reported yesterday, secondhand exposure of family members to asbestos particles on the clothing and bodies of those who worked with the material has also been shown to cause mesothelioma up to 40 years after the exposure.