Brain Tumor Biomarker May Improve Patient Outcomes

MONDAY April 28, 2008 -- U.S. researchers have identified new biomarkers that may help enhance detection of new and recurrent primary and metastatic brain tumors, something that could help improve patient outcomes.

A team from Children's Hospital Boston and Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed specimens from 28 children and adults with brain and central nervous system (CNS) tumors and 23 people with no tumors.

They found that urinary levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) -- a multi-gene family of degradative enzymes -- are elevated in patients with brain and CNS tumors.

"Recent studies from our laboratory, now confirmed by others, support the premise that tumor stage and progression correlate with urinary levels of MMPs," Dr. Edward R. Smith said in a prepared statement. "These studies are the first to suggest that the measurement of MMPs and related biomarkers in the urine of affected patients might represent a novel, noninvasive method of detecting disease status, progression and therapeutic effect."

"Early results from our ongoing protocol evaluating the role of urinary MPPs as noninvasive biomarkers for brain tumors are encouraging, particularly in light of this uniquely challenging cohort of cancer patients," Smith said.

Smith was expected to present his findings Monday at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons annual meeting, in Chicago.

"Ultimately, we envision that routine sampling of urinary MPPs and other biomarkers may enhance current methods of brain tumor detection and follow-up by facilitating earlier detection of both [new] and recurrent disease through noninvasive surveillance for abnormal urinary biomarker profiles. And most exciting is that this has real potential to equate to improved patient outcome," Smith said.

In 2005, about 43,800 new cases of primary nonmalignant and malignant brain and CNS tumors were diagnosed in the United States, and about 12,760 children and adults died from these kinds of tumors, according to background information in a news release about the study.

More information

The American Brain Tumor Association has more about brain tumors.

Posted: April 2008


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