It has long been a goal of lung cancer diagnostics to identify a suitable circulating molecular marker of tumor presence and progress, but until now no such specific marker has been found. In March 18 British Journal of Cancer, R. Jäger and colleagues from Philipps University of Marburg, Germany, show that pleiotrophin (PTN) may be an effective marker for small cell lung cancer, and subsequently, for measuring a patients response to therapy.

PTN is a heparin-binding growth factor involved in the differentiation and proliferation of neuronal tissue during embryogenesis. Jäger et al. used a specific ELISA-test and found that of the 63 small cell lung cancer patients PTN serum levels were elevated in 55 cases (87%) and in 14 cases (63%) of the 22 non-small cell lung cancer patients. Mean PTN serum concentrations were 10.8-fold higher in the tumor patient group compared to the control group (P...

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