- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Australian researchers said Wednesday they have developed the world’s first blood test to detect melanoma, paving a new way to detect the disease early and increase survival chances for patients.

“Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five year survival rate between 90 and 99 per cent,” lead research Pauline Zaenker, a Ph.D. candidate at Edith Cowan University in Australia, said in a statement. Their study was published in the journal Oncotarget. “… If it is not caught early and it spreads around the body, the five year survival rate drops to less than 50 per cent.”

The blood test works by picking up on antibodies in the body that are responding to melanoma. Current screening tools for the disease are based on physical exams with a physician to search for irregular growths on the skin. Those then have to be biopsied and tested before a diagnosis can occur.

“The body starts producing these antibodies as soon as melanoma first develops which is how we have been able to detect the cancer in its very early stages with this blood test,” Ms. Zaenker said. “No other type of biomarker appears to be capable of detecting the cancer in blood at these early stages.”

The researchers sifted through 1,627 antibodies to identify a combination 10 antibodies that best indicated the presence of cancer in the body, the statement read.

The test was evaluated on 105 people with melanoma and 104 healthy people and detected early stage melanoma in 79 percent of cases.

Yet the researchers caution it will take about three years of follow-up research before the test can be introduced in the clinical setting.

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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