Neurofibromatosis type 1 is a genetic condition that can cause tumors to form on nerves under the skin. Since these tumors can become malignant, it is important to monitor their growth closely and detect signs of malignant transformation as early as possible. However, the only way to currently detect them is with an MRI scan. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine shows that a simple blood test for the protein melanoma-inhibitory activity (MIA) may be used to indicate the presence of neurofibromas even if they cannot be seen .
Scientists have found that cancer patients produce antibodies that target abnormal glycoproteins (proteins with sugar molecules attached) made by their tumors. The result of this work suggests that antitumor antibodies in the blood may provide a fruitful source of sensitive biomarkers for cancer detection. The study, supported in part by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, appears in the Feb. 15, 2010 issue of the journal Cancer Research.